I Steal Television Shows Because I Have To

This morning, via Cory Bergman and Lost Remote, comes word that Charter Communications has been sending letters to their customers telling them to stop BitTorrenting HBO shows. Essentially, HBO has been watching torrents and trackers looking for the IP addresses of everyone who is “sharing” one of their shows. Upon identifying an IP address and associating it with a filename like “The.Sopranos.S06E02.HDTV”, HBO will send a letter to the ISP who owns that IP address urging them to revoke that customer’s internet access altogether.

First let me say that I believe in HBO’s right to stop their shows from being shared online. Sorry, but I do. The Sopranos is property of HBO and the only license they grant is for you to either a) watch it on HBO, or b) buy/rent the DVDs. HBO is a premium channel so you pay for the right to watch their stuff and you don’t have to deal with commercials. Fair enough, as far as I’m concerned.

Notwithstanding the above paragraph, it’s interesting to note the steps that HBO must take in order for them to actually have these letters sent. They must first equip themselves with the same BitTorrent software that they seem to be fighting against. Then, they must seek out these Torrents, and I believe actually participate in them in order to verify that a file named “The.Sopranos.S06E02.HDTV” is actually the Sopranos and not a one-hour home movie from god knows who. So it’s clear they have to actually download the file. This would seem to be illegal, but I guess they’d let themselves off since they own the content. But with BitTorrent, when you download, you also upload, so not only are they sucking the file down to their machines, but they are also willingly distributing it to others. I know the goal is to just catch thieves, but isn’t this very entrapment-like? I don’t want to get any deeper into the legal aspect of this because a) I’m not a lawyer, and b) it’s probably possible to download from BitTorrent without uploading, but I just thought it was interesting.

Throwing HBO aside for a moment though, I’d like to publicly admit to my ISP (Qwest) and the rest of the world that I, too, steal television shows.

My cable provider is Comcast. I pay for a premium package including HDTV, an HD-PVR, way too many channels, and HBO. I watch stuff live whenever I can, and I don’t mind commercials. I take that back. I mind the Applebee’s commercial with the damn Gilligan’s Island theme song parody. I HATE that thing.

Occasionally, however, I am doing other things, such as working, when one of my favorite shows is on. In the past, I have either set my VCR to record these shows or set up the old Season’s Pass on the DirecTivo to do the trick. But since Comcast bugged me time after time to switch away from my DirecTV service and onto their HD Cable Service with PVR (that’s Painfully Volatile Recorder), I now have to rely on the technology Comcast has chosen for me in order to catch Survivor and 24.

So without getting into the ugly specifics of the Comcastorolasoft PVR (I’ve done that three times on this blog already), let me just say that this recorder obeys orders about as reliably as Internet Explorer renders CSS. That is to say, sporadically, sloppily, and at times, without reason. Not only have I missed entire shows but I also missed the final minutes of two extremely important basketball games even though I set the box to record well over the allotted time of the show.

So when you’re in the middle of a season of 24 and you miss an episode because your cable box was too busy, ummmmm, displaying the time, what do you do? What CAN you do? There are no repeats. There are no free downloads for cable subscribers. The only thing you can do is hop on Azureus and BitTorrent yourself the episode you missed.

And that’s what I do. About two or three times a month.

It’s not clear who is at fault here on the technology side so it’s hard to point fingers. It’s either Comcast (the providers of the service), Motorola (the makers of the PVR), or Microsoft (the engineers of the PVR’s operating system). Those who know me would guess I’d be most likely to blame Microsoft — and I do — but the only company I’m willing to give a bit of a free pass to here is Motorola. It’s not clear they have any control over what’s going on. Comcast, on the other hand, does. Even if the cause of this PVR’s instability is the Microsoft OS, they are the ones who approved and continue to approve its use in the Seattle metro area (other areas around the country do not use the Microsoft OS).

So who are the losers in this whole equation?

  • TV Advertisers: When I download a show, there are no commercials for me to watch.
  • TV Stations: When I download a show, I am not tuned to a TV station, so theoretically, if Neilson homes did this, ratings would go down.
  • Everyone involved in creating TV shows: By bypassing the economics of television distribution and monetization, I am decreasing the amount of money in the system and therefore the incentive to create great shows.
  • Qwest: Because I am downloading 350 megabyte shows, I am sucking up unnecessary bandwidth from my ISP.
  • Me: I hate downloading shows. I have to watch them on my laptop instead of the HDTV and there is often a few day delay in actually procuring the program.

And who are the winners?

The only person I can think of is perhaps the person who doesn’t pay for TV at all and is receiving tons of shows by virtue of this growing TV-sharing environment on the internet.

So what’s the solution to this whole problem? Well, I have a few obvious suggestions:

  1. Cable companies, please fix your PVRs already. Buy Tivo if you have to. In three years using a DirecTivo, I never missed a show.
  2. Whether you’re a cable or satellite company, offer as many of your shows on-demand as possible. Comcast offers most HBO shows on demand, so even if I miss an episode, I can view it whenever I want. In other words, Comcast and HBO have seen to it that if you pay for HBO, there is no reason you should ever need to download an HBO show illegally. Good move.
  3. Continue the policy of prohibiting commercial-free, illegal copies of shows to be distributed over P2P networks but change the game entirely by offering perhaps both pay-per-download and ad-supported versions of shows online.

I have no indication that suggestion number one will happen anytime soon, but numbers two and three are already at various points of development. I can only hope that when these new models mature, the economic model for television will remain viable.

Until then though, I will keep stealing TV as long as technology forces me to.

127 comments on “I Steal Television Shows Because I Have To”. Leave your own?
  1. Oliver Zheng says:

    Competition is always good. I’m not stealing, though I wish I am. It’ll make the better out of everyone.

  2. As a resident of The Netherlands, it isn’t only technology forcing me to steal shows. I mean, what do they expect when they air the first 13 episodes of Lost season 1, then stop. Just, stop for six months. They have plenty of reasons for doing so, but they are all irrelevant for me.

    The US is lucky with their TiVo’s and gimmicks. Digital TV has barely broken through here. I have a 32″ HDTV and I refuse to watch poor quality analog signal on it when I can have 720p at any single time I want. So, not only do I steal TV, I do it frequently. About five shows a week.

  3. Su says:

    It is possible to grab a torrent without sharing, but it’s unpleasant. It can severely slow your own download. Considering the amount of effort being put into this, I doubt they’d add significant extra time like this.
    There are actually a couple of clients which are being increasingly banned by trackers because they have been specifically built to allow leeching, by lying to other clients about what they have, or ignoring convenient bits of the protocol, etc.

  4. Nathan Smith says:

    You make some very good points Mike. I think that most people who use BitTorrent wouldn’t think twice about the legality of downloading TV shows, since the recording capability has been around for quite some time now, in the form of VCR and now Tivo. Still, the fact that the networks miss out on the advertising opportunities that drive their sites is something to ponder. It’s paradoxal really, that by stealing your favorite show, you may ultimately be contributing to its demise. That is not unlike the hay-day of Napster, and the ripples of panic it sent through the music industry.

  5. Mark says:

    I completely agree with your points. I would say that this problem is only going to increase, especially since the storylines of tv shows are becoming much longer and complex. If a few years ago, you missed one week’s episode of Friends or Seinfeld, it wasn’t that big a deal, as the storylines all wrapup in each episode. But looking at the format of most shows out there now, like Sopranos, 24, Prison Break, Lost, etc, it’s crucial that you see that episode before the next new one.

    FX does a good job with this. For their big shows, like The Shield, Thief, etc, the rerun the episode three or four times throughout the week, so if you miss it the first time, you can still catch it before next week…

  6. Shaun says:

    Would the answer be to provide all of their content on Demand? I know HBO has on demand, but do they have it in HD on Demand? In Canada we don’t have it in HD on demand anyway.

    Missed (or not available ) shows is the only reason I’ve downloaded them online — outside of BitTorrent mind you.

    I really think this is step #1 for these companies. Now that there are offering shows online via iTunes, it’s only natural that they will begin to protect this content as much as possible.

    Personally I find it pathetic that I’d have to pay to download “Lost” for example, if I already pay for cable and can see it for what I’ve ALREADY paid.

    The answer is everything on-demand, available right after it airs.

  7. Shaun says:

    here’s irony .. right after I posted, I just read this on the ‘vine


  8. web says:

    I feel your pain. I have the exact same service DVR and PROBLEM and I am on the East Coast — Boston — so suffice to say this is a national problem.

    I would gladly pay for the ability to watch the shows I want to on my schedule (aka downloading them) — oh wait I do pay for it — but tell me again why I can’t watch them. Oh yeah “equipment and network problems” ..

    Some day these cable companies will get their asses in gear and they will reap the benefits — until then — I’ll be torrent’ing my ass off.

    Secrest Out!

  9. Rian Murnen says:

    Networks Rush to Offer Shows Online

    Greg Steiner, 36, of Los Angeles downloads episodes as a backup for when his TiVo malfunctions. He appreciates the convenience, but would love a larger selection.

    Your not the only user feeling the pain. I would offer that the solution is going to come from the content producers (networks and studios) not the cable providers or hardware / software manufacturers.

  10. A big reason downloading in Europe is over-active is because we are held back from so much that our American/Canadian friends get to see. We wait 6-7 months to get a TV show that airs today and after that 6-7 months all our American/Canadian friends on-line have already gotten over the buzz and are probably watching the next series.

    My big problem is this – if your making it available for download in the first place, make sure everyone can access it and not just Americans who already have it. They would do very well and earn alot more money if they just made ‘America only’ content available to everyone in the rest of the world too…

    Until that happens, i’m afraid i’ll be stuck with low quality torrent downloads too.

  11. Sorry for the ‘double comment’ but another great example of my point is the movie industry. They wouldn’t have to file lawsuits if they made movies available everywhere in the same time period. A week or two delay we don’t mind… but when it’s something ridiculous like 6 months (or up to 18 months for a few movies…) between the time it comes from America to the UK then it just gets ridiculous.

    Matrix: the final installment was available everywhere within a 24 hour period and not only made history for distribution but made history with its sales. I know alot of movie downloaders and I don’t know a single person who downloaded the Matrix 3… not because they couldn’t, but because it was available to them when it was available to their friends around the world.

    I realise that distribution across the globe is a hard task and there are alot of factors that come into it, but come on… putting it on the internet isn’t a hard thing :)

  12. I agree with you about the whole article (except the PVR thing. Here in LA, the PVR worked great).

    About the whole “HBO downloads torrents”, I thought I would clarify this. There are companies that actually mine this data for the IP holders (MPAA, RIAA, etc), and keep INSANELY large databases full of user information of different people who are using the various backbones to transmit copyrighted material. They track bit torrent, limewire, the Morpheus networks, etc.

    How they do this exactly, I am not sure, but I know for a fact that they do it, because I have a standing job offer as a PHP developer at one of these places, as well as a friend who works there.

    They pass on this information to the various companies that hire them out, and that is how they get the info to start suing folks.

    I can send you the name of the company via email, but I’d rather it not get out. They are really hush hush about stuff…

  13. PanMan says:

    As Jeroen, #2, said, here in the Netherlands there are even other reasons, such as the fact that they stopped airing Lost, twice. And the fact that TiVo is NOT available here. And most shows, when aired, are aired a couple of years late. (altho one could argue you’d just have to wait). And some great shows aren’t aired at all here.
    But, to put things in perspective: Downloading here isn’t illegal, due to some old law allowing home copy’s. Uploading is forbidden tho, and since most P2P involves uploading, many downloaders do illegal things, downloading from, for example, usenet, isn’t illegal here.
    Oh, and we don’t have ANY pay-per-view program yet, altho it is comming soon, I guess.

    On a side note: What microsoft OS does your PVR run? Is it a windows media center box? Or is it some strange embed form? Just wondering.

  14. Mike D. says:

    PanMan: The Microsoft OS on the Comcast Box is a custom “guide” they designed just for this box. I think its official name is “P.O.S.”

  15. sosa says:

    I know nobody cares about thir world, but here in mexico we have to wait 2 frikin months to watch a new season for some show we want. We don’t have TiVo’s and the only DVR’s on the market are extremely expensive for my sub-regular third world incomes and local TV totally sucks. Even if they start selling episodes online it wouldn’t make any differnece because odds are that they wont sell in america latina (like the damn iTunes Music Store).

    So, I download TV episodes and I will keep doing until i can’t anymore.

  16. Bradley says:

    Steal – “take without permission or legal right”

    Mike, I feel for you. And I realize you say you are stealing to make a point, but if you pay for cable there is no way I could call it stealing. People can talk about licenses all they want, but I bet you never signed a thing when you hooked up your cable. Even under copyright law, you have a legal right to timeshift.

    What this really comes down to is “authorized distribution”. P2P networks are clearly not authorized channels, by the industry’s definition. This is exactly where the law becomes gray, because even though you have a right to timeshift, you may not have a right to obtain the content through this channel.

    In a nutshell, nobody in the TV industry is fighting your right to timeshift, they are fighting over their sole discretion and control of distribution channels. It’s all about controlling the pipeline. Think vertical.

    On a related note:
    HDCP. It’s coming. If it was an Apple thing that took off, they would be sued into oblivion. But get Sony, Toshiba, Hitachi, and a bunch of others in on it, and it’s no longer a monopoly.

    I have a real problem with paying for stuff that I can only watch on an “authorized” monitor. It’s the same problem, only now it’s making itself comfy in your livingroom.

    Anyway, I’m with you on the rest of your analysis. Provide the content on-demand over existing, “authorized” channels (especially for free after the air-date), and the argument ends.

    It’s good to hear someone give a critical analysis on this instead of just griping. Way to be a man, Mike.

  17. oliver says:

    Networks don’t sell shows to people, they sell Nielsen Media Research’s (NMR) numbers to the adverting industry; and save re-creating this system online, the only way Networks are going to allow online distribution is with a radical change in the economics of Television.

    There are 5,000 NMR homes in america which represent 100 million televisions. Each television counts for just under 20,000 televisions in America. NMR is the only game in town. Everyone gets their ratings data from one source.

    This means that NMR can claim to have numbers for all 100 million television sets in America and that those numbers are as definitive as you can get; which is very attractive to advertising agencies, it’s like the Holy Grail. The more people that Nielsen claims to represent the more power their numbers have in determining which shows are a success and which are not.

    I was part of a NMR household once, it was pretty regular for us to manipulate the rating of shows we liked and didn’t like. I never really cared for “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition”, but my girlfriend loved it. So every time it was on she would punch in that I was watching too. All you have to do is press a button and, Bam!, thousands more people are now watching the show. I suspect that this is common behavior.

    But this system is, despite how much they bitch and moan about it, very useful to the Networks.

    What this essentially creates is an atmosphere where value is measured in the potential for profit, based on an estimated number of customers that a television show creates, which is a Fantasy-Land. And it is a Fantasy-Land which has driven all of the growth in the television business and will continue to do so.

    The internet is a direct threat to this Fantasy-Land because online the numbers are real. Cold and Hard. And once advertisers get their hands on the real numbers they would find they they need to change their advertising plans, that 5,000 homes is not enough. That the numbers are wrong. The loss of faith would come down upon the Networks like the hand of God.

    Ratings can be the only measure of success and the only guiding light in how an advertiser must spend his money. Any loss of faith in the numbers of television ratings on the part of advertisers will be nothing short of a disaster for the television business.

    Numbers on the internet are exact (unless deliberately changed) and this means that the entire structure of how Network television makes money has to change in order to allow online downloads. And you can bet that that’s going to take a long difficult struggle.

    The advertisers really need to stand up to the Networks and NMR and recognize that they are being ripped-off. Paying for the potential for profit off an estimated number of customers created by the most expensive art-form on earth… is insane.

    A quick way for this to come about is to get advertisers to refuse to market using TV unless a download option is available. Picture a future where advertisers know exactly how many people are watching each show, and exactly who they are (a user-profile the tells them age, sex, race, income, spoken languages, etc.); providing a perfect profile of the demographic that is being advertised to, unlike NMR’s estimated rating system. They would then know exactly which ads to run, and how effective they will be. I’ve got a friend who’s a spammer and she says she can tell within minutes if a campaign is working. Minutes. This is the Holy Grail for advertisers.

    What does that mean for the Networks? It means that online distribution does nothing short of signal the coming of the loss of faith the existing system of television ratings. It means they loose that Fantasy-Land they’ve come to depend upon for all of their economic growth… which is why they will fight this to the very end.

  18. Erik says:

    I completely agree with you, and I certainly hope this article finds its way to the desks of some cable and studio big shots. If the technology is broken (or doesn’t exist) to meet the demand of those who have already paid for the content, then it really is their problem. We’re obviously entering a new era of content distribution, and the providers had better keep on top of the changes.

    I like the on-demand idea very much and that sounds like the best solution. If need be, I would sort of be OK with logging in to my cable company’s site and downloading the content there (for free since I’ve already paid), but I’d really much rather view it on my TV, not a 15″ laptop screen with bad speakers.

    So to the content providers, there’s only one thing to say: If you build it, they will come.

    P.S. – HDCP also scares the crap out of me. It is my hope that once the non-tech-savvy masses realize they can’t view the content they paid for how they want, they will then rise up as one and crush the evil media conglomerates. So to speak.

  19. bennion says:

    I don’t ‘torrent’. I don’t have a tivo. But i must agree with you one thing… that applebee’s commerical must DIE!!!! DIE DIE DIE!!!! Sorry, just had to get that off my chest.

  20. Jon E. says:

    That sucks, Mike. I’ve been where you are, and there’s nothing pleasant about it. Moreover, as disgusted I was with the cable (or in my case, satellite), I felt equally disgusted with my own behavior and stealing the show. I’ve always been an anti-piracy proponent on the internet: songs, shows, images, , and especially, software, but you make a valid point. When you are cheated in your cable plan, does that justify cheating your cable plan to compensate for your loss? The “spirit of the law vs. the letter of the law” question has dragged on for years with no easy answer.

    Have you tried the tedious, annoying, and ultimately pointless task of informing Comcast just how exasperated you are every time you’re PVR goes rogue on you?


  21. nick says:

    I think you touched on where HBO should truly be focusing their attention with your third suggestion, Mike: MAKE YOUR SHOWS AVAILABLE ONLINE!

    I too think its great that Comcast and other providers have OnDemand for HBO and other channels, yet if you have OnDemand chances are you have the channel already. While this is good for times when you miss your show, what about those out there that don’t have said channel to begin with? I don’t have HBO but am hooked on Sopranos and Curb Your Enthusiasm. All of this torrenting online should be telling HBO that there is an extreme demand to get their product onto this form of distribution — hello iTunes! I was OK with paying $1.99 per show to catch up on LOST this season. I would have no problem watching Sopranos via the same format. With that said, would putting their shows on iTunes be the solution to getting rid of illegal torrents? No. But it WILL be another form of providing their shows to those of us who can’t normally get it, the same people who would be tempted to download a torrent. I would venture to say that illegal downloads will decline as producers and distributers figure out more ways to give the public [legal] access to their shows. By doing so, they can lay claim to offering the best possible reproduction of said show (HD, no commercials, etc) which factors in to the public’s decision making between buying a show and illegally downloading it. Case in point: would you rather download a song from Limewire and take the chance that after finding it and downloading it, it really wasn’t all the good of quality – or – instantly find it on iTunes with a guaranteed download rate and the best compression quality out there all for a rather cheap price? More than once I have gone with option #2.

    As of now I can see 3 alternate forms of distribution that HBO should be offering: 1.) onDemand, which it already does, takes care of its subscribing customers; 2.) iTunes. Join Showtime, ABC, et al in a medium where users can find all (or most of) of their shows; 3.) on HBO’s website. This would enable those in the world outside of the iTunes model (hello Netherlands), or those that don’t have iTunes, to still be able to have access to their shows at top quality.

    Until HBO and other channels/distributers provide a reasonable means to download their product online, illegal options like torrenting will prevail and everyone will continue to walk the line of what is reasonably illegal.

    PS – I wish that ALL Applebee’s commercials and Applebee’s itself would just go away.

  22. Mike,

    Great article as usual.

    Because of a busy schedule, I find that I rarely ever watch HBO shows when they air but almost exclusively On-Demand. It’s definitely a great feature.

    It sounds like from your post that Comcast automatically provides cable subscribers with on-demand service for free. Unfortunately, here in Time Warner land, it’s extra.


  23. Kevin Burton says:

    “But with BitTorrent, when you download, you also upload, so not only are they sucking the file down to their machines, but they are also willingly distributing it to others.”

    Nah.. you can just leech. You’ll get slower downloads though.

  24. Mike, did you ever try MythTV? I recall you liking the idea back on one of your prior posts. I set up a MythTV box a while back, wow it was cool. Though I gave that to my sister, the Tivo is fine with me :)

  25. gb says:

    If it makes you feel any better, mike, I have the same cable box through comcast, sans the M$ operating system, and it doesn’t work much better. It freezes, it misses shows (inexplicably) and it generally needs to be committed to a mental ward before I am.

    Comcast does offer Survivor reruns on-demand… for like a dollar per show. What a rip-off… paying for it twice is always fun.

  26. Faruk Ateş says:

    Man, they should just sell the stuff on the iTunes Media Store and be done with it. ;-)

    Whenever I’m not in the US, I download Lost for the exact reason Jeroen (#2) explains above. I just won’t accept BS delays like 6-7 months between US air dates and local air dates. When all my friends talk about what happened in last night’s episode, I’m not going to sit there asking them to shut up for the coming 7 months.

    The Matrix 3 is a good example of how they should do it with movies. SW:Ep3 did the same, and it was good. Bitchslap whoever tells the studios (or whichever execs within them) to not release worldwide and just go ahead with it already. I much rather watch a new movie in a theater, but not if it means I have to wait 5-10 months for it, first.

  27. John Dowdell says:

    Hi Mike — There’s a related story this week, from the other side of the fence — the Videobloggers mailing list at groups.yahoo.com/group/videoblogging is figuring out what to do when a commercial site repurposes casual video without notifying the creator — tons and tons of comments, without an accurate wrapup yet, but if you’re interested in the centralized HBO angle then you may want to watch the decentralized videoblogging angle too.


  28. maki says:

    As an expat (mostly) living outside of the U.S. I have expressed my frustation at this TV stuff repeatedly in the past, but I have to say that the availability of legal TV downloads is getting better, slowly. iTMS is a godsend for people like me, though I want more! more! more! shows.

    However, I just hate the way Google Video has set up their for-pay video system. They block access to them from non-US IPs. So here I am, ready to pay them $2 or whatever for even limited-time access to those low-bitrate rather crappy versions of say, The Amazing Race or Survivor, and they won’t let me spend my money. “Crap reality” shows like these don’t even sell to most overseas markets so why block a potential customer for them? It makes no sense at all. Needless to say the also block all their CBS, etc. lineup. So I will continue to download all their content from ‘illegal’ sources until they stop this stupidity. (Any other networks that haven’t signed up with Google or iTunes yet, please go to iTunes, thanks.)

    (iTMS does restrict purchase from their U.S. site to people with U.S. credit cards, but to me this seems a fairer approach than Google’s. Though they are just cutting themselves off from so many eager overseas customers, imho. The download scene is extremely active in Europe, for a reason!)

  29. John Dowdell says:

    Maki, I know that it’s difficult to set up legal status for sales in all regions, so it’s plausible that while Google is in beta they will minimize those governmental costs and test in one region at first. This doesn’t ease your discomfort, I know, but it likely isn’t just arbitrary discrimination on Google’s part.

  30. John Patrick says:

    Marvellous article! A pleasure to read (as always) and incredibly true. How lightening strikes three times I’ll never know but they all got within a few millimeters there.

    I’d like to say I agree with you, when we are forced to download episodes of our favourite television shows because we are tired of being kept in the dark (I live in the UK and trying to get the latest on LOST is an absolute nightmare, we’re so far behind I’m forced to aquire upcoming episodes to keep my hunger at a specific level).

    Why they can’t give everyone the same thing at the same time I will not know. We don’t even get the latest episodes here in the UK of many things you guys get to see. We usually get “The throwoffs” which are basically 8-12 episodes before your latest ones. Now when a show like LOST only has one episode a week, you start to get annoyed that you have to wait a week for a 45 minute show and you really really want to move onto the next one as soon as possible.

    Technology, however, does not allow us to do this easily. When I want to watch a television show I must watch it through SKY because my aerial system where I live is gash, it’s absolutely horrible and I’ve had multiple aerial engineers round to look at it. I’m forced to pay $70 a month for television I hardly watch and for repeats and old episodes of programs previously televised.

    I have no choice but to acquire new episodes, to keep my sanity.

  31. PanMan says:

    #28, maki: Why is it not bad to allow only US CreditCards, but is it bad to do so for US IP’s? Just because it’s convenient for you, doesn’t make it nice to the other europeans (and other countries!). But I guess it has to do with both rights, and the market size of the US. Altho I don’t think opening it up for other people with a credit card would make things much more complicated.

  32. JJ says:

    I live in Austin. Austin does not have a UPN station. Many people in Austin *think* we do, and that is because the bigger of the two cable companies in Austin (Time Warner) has a deal with the UPN station in another town to use their feed. I do not have TimeWarner – I cannot even get them in my neighboorhood. So, I do not have UPN.

    I love Veronica Mars. It is one of the best shows on TV. Veronica Mars is on UPN. I think I have convered that point. Every week there is a new episode, and have to download via Emule to my laptop, S-video into my bigscreen, and watch it.

    Who are the loosers? I mean the “L on the forehead” loosers? UPN. I don’t get why every show on TV is not available for download. UPN is a rebel. Why weren’t they doing this a couple of years ago? Not only are they a rebel, but they are watched my a younger (read: tech savy) crowd. Jeez! Seriously, they could come up with some sort of profit sharing with the locals if that is the issue. It tooks Steve Jobs to finally bring TV downloads to the PC err… and the Mac.

  33. tubalcane says:

    You should have stayed with your DirecTivo. As you said, in 2 years my DirecTivo has never missed show, same with my old Series 1 Tivo. The drives of died but I’ve replaced those.

    I’m not trying to be mean but you should dump cable and go back to satellite. DirecTV and Tivo just announced a 3 year extension to their deal so my DirecTivo will keep working for at least 3 years.

    My friends with Time Warner Scientific Atlanta DVRs have the same problems as you.

  34. electronicmaji says:

    It forces you? you have to? you wont die without it. Its not like water or oxygen or food. And even if its something you absolutely need to survive and you couldnt get it doesnt mean someone is forcing you to steal it. Its all your own choice and I find this article high presumptious on the point of trying to make yourself look innocent.

  35. Chris says:

    I think the real fault, domestically, lies with the cable companies trying to reinvent the wheel. TiVo has been out a long time and is a very proven technology. But let’s face it, cable companies have be monopolistic since their inception so why change that philosophical approach when getting into the PVR business.

    Internationally, it is the content providers trying to milk the pot and selling of distribution rights with all kinds of time delay clauses. This is 1980’s thinking. By waiting they devalue their own products. It would not be difficult to synchronize the schedules globally. The news outlets do it. Many forms of the BBC, CNN and Fox are seen around the world and all share content. HBO could, and in some cases does, use the same model and the networks could use there current partners to do something very similar.

    I think the thing they have to ask themselves, the cable operators as well as the content providers, is how are they contributing to the problem? The cable operators will lose big money on what they have dumped into PVR technology. With cable card technology and a proven standard like TiVo, a good working PVR can be integrated into anything and the price for the hardware will only continue fall. If they are not already liquid on there investment then it is a big loser for them. Their execs should have seen that a mile away. Content providers need to make their content more accessible. Most people will gladly pay for content they enjoy if it is readily available. Most that steal would have never bought it to begin with so really there is little revenue loose.

  36. Jason L. says:

    Well said, electronicmaji, well said.

  37. Misleading title says:

    Anyone here saying this is ‘stealing’ is a scam post – anyone with a clue knows this is not ‘stealing’. Grow some brains.

  38. electronicmaji says:

    Its not stealing? It has always been stealing. the only difference nowdays is we have switched from analogue mediums with which prior it was impossible to make a perfect copy of something and a physical copy was evident when you made a copy, now in the digital age copies are easy to make and always perfect. Because of this many think old rules dont apply but it is the exact same thing as copying a tape on a tape to tape rack back in the 80s. many did, many thought it wasnt wrong..but it still was wrong…the only reason the companies didnt care was because the copy was imperfect and usually sounded like shit.

  39. Peter Dorsi says:

    I am in the same boat as you, I pay for the ultimate HDTV/PVR package from Time Warner cable. Every once in awhile I will get an angry look from the wife when thier crappy PVR dosen’t record one of her shows for little to no reason at all. We previously had a TiVo and outside of maybe once or twice a year(!) it never failed. Wish the same was true for the Time Warner PVR.

    Luckily I heard they are going to release major TV shows online with ads the day after, hopefully then my wife will be a little happier.

  40. Tony Spencer says:

    You make some very good points Mike.

    As many people have said, if you live outside the US, things become very difficult. Sometimes shows or films are not released, or released really late. Others are not made available in PAL format, so then you are also up against region code problems and not able to play them even when you’ve bought them.

    It’s frustrating when you actually want to put up cash to buy these things.

    But most of it is greed on the part of the corporations. There’s always a new technology around the corner, and the corps think we’ll be big enough saps to fork out yet again.

    With music, I’ve often bought the vinyl, the pre-recorded cassette and then the CD, so I’ve paid for the same piece of music three times.

    Ditto with video. Bought the video cassette, and then the DVD. Now they expect me to fork out again for HDTV, and if you’re Sony, again to play it on PS3.

    And in the UK and France, they want you to pay for internet access for free to air TV (which you’ve already paid for once by having to buy a TV licence)…

    The piracy thing is one big hoax. An individual who regularly pirates is going to do that come what may. Professional pirates sell to unsuspecting individuals who think they are buying the genuine item. It’s about honesty, and they don’t trust any of us.

    In France for example, there is a tax on blank media, in case we use them for copying, and also on memory chips, such that about $10 of the cost of an iPod is a tax in case we copy music, so the MPAA and RIAA are getting it both ways, while trying to prevent us from playing stuff when and where we want.

    That’s actually one of the things with the DRM legislation in France – we are already compensating these guys so what more do they want?

  41. Tim says:

    I used to download The Daily Show off bittorrent, because it is the only show I watch and otherwise I don’t like TV. Then I bought Apple’s subscription from iTunes. The shows weren’t available until much later than the bittorrents, the files have DRM, they are half the resolution, they have annoying comedy central plugs at the beginning and end. What’s more, it costs 1/4 the cost of getting cable to get half a month’s worth of shows. This is ridiculous.

  42. Pete Bevin says:

    You don’t have to download or upload anything to get a list of downloaders. Just connect to the tracker, and it tells you (among other things) the IP addresses and ports of others who have connected. The protocol details are at Bram’s site.

  43. David says:

    Why don’t you switch back to DirecTV/Tivo?

  44. Mike D. says:

    electronicmaji: I’m not saying I’m innocent. I’m guilty. Just guilty with an explanation… an explanation meant to explain the unfortunateness of the situation.

    Pete: Good info about tracking IPs without downloading. I wasn’t aware of that. However… like I said, how do you verify that what is being downloaded is the real (stolen) deal without downloading it yourself?

    David: Yep, I’m going to switch back to DirecTivo as soon as the new HD boxes are out. Counting the days…

  45. Stan says:

    TV is so bad it’s not worth stealing.

  46. Stephen Carboni says:

    You make one hell of a point and I agree with you 100%. They should make it where they have their program the stream on HBO.com so people are able to see it without D/Ling it.

  47. kerry says:

    I skipped some posts in the thread but i wanted to bring up a different side to this whole arguement.

    The only losers I see in our downloading tv shows, we all do it, are the advertisers whose commercials have been edited out.

    If Comcast for you or in this case Shaw for me up here in BC, are paid by me to deliver the content in the first place and they pay their fees to the networks, then why shouldn’t i be able to download a show at my convenience after it’s been broadcast? I’ve already in essence paid for the showing and i’m not creating another revenue stream that HBO or anyone else is missing out on. I’m just staying in touch with the broadcast content that i wanted in the first place.

    Just my .02 cents.

  48. Nightspark says:

    Well written, I hope this article gets a lot of attention.

    I download 24 every week because I don’t have cable and due to geographical constraints I can’t get Fox’s OTA signal. In my opinion, this causes no harm to Fox. Other people can watch without paying anything, so they aren’t losing money that way. Other people can watch without paying any attention to commercials, so they aren’t losing money that way. Other people can watch and not buy DVDs of the shows, so they aren’t losing money that way. But because I download 24 and enjoy the show, I have become a fan. As a fan, I am more likely to buy 24 merchandise and talk about it with my friends. If I hadn’t downloaded the show, there would be no chance of me buying merchandise or promoting it to others.

    In my opinion, downloading shows recorded off the air is in no way stealing. I think it can even be beneficial to the networks. But I do agree that downloading shows from cable networks without being a subscriber is stealing. However, I also believe that downloading a cable show if you are a subscriber is not stealing. As you wrote, if you are a subscriber, you have paid for the content and should be able to enjoy it in the manner you wish. If you were unable to record the show on you own, you have the right (in my opinion) to get it from someone else.

  49. Great article. I haven’t read each of the comments (that is my apology in advance if I repeat someone), but I would like to add another suggestion to the list of solutions. Offer uncrippled PVR’s. As a Dish Network subscriber, I would love the ability to connect my PVR to my home network and transfer programs to a computer (maybe not transfer, but allow me to view them on a computer). With my work setup, I have a laptop and two desktops in my office and no room to easily add a TV. I often have a DVD (God bless Netflix) playing on one of the desktops and would love to be able to watch the shows I record with my PVR on a computer (even if it has commercials).
    Again, wonderful article!

  50. Dave says:

    I’ll tell you who wins…. those people in countries like New Zealand that are like 6 months behind the american tv schedule!!!

  51. Bit Twiddler says:

    I agree with everything in this post except the overly harsh treatment of Microsoft – perhaps you should read this:



  52. You don’t NEED to – you could wait for the season’s DVD to come out or watch it over at a friend’s house who recorded it. NEED is a strong word….

  53. Jon Maddox says:

    Very good points, but i can solve one of your problems very easily.


    In fact you may never watch live tv again because of it.

  54. EF says:

    Don’t admit to “stealing”. You make unauthorized copies. While this act does fall into the criminal realm due to the DCMA, it doesn’t and never will, count as “stealing.” To steal, you must take something from the original owner. Proper nomenclature would help this debate tremendously.

    Thanks for the heads up on the honeypots. When I saw that these shows stalled at 75% and all had the same 4 seeds, I knew they were fishing. Glad to have that intuition proven by facts.

  55. Nick says:

    Good read. Gives lots of things to think about.

    I came across a situation recently that left me with no other option than to “steal” the show. In England, there’s a program called “The IT Crowd”. This show is actually available for download off the TV Stations website (days before they air the actual episode). Sounds great. The catch is, you have to live in England to do so. The only other option BitTorrent it.

    So, my question is, if a show never has a chance of being released in your country (I guess never say never…but the chances are slim to none), is it wrong to download it? It’s not costing advertisers any money since it was never going to air (here), and its already available for free anyways.

    I think, while companies need to be cracking down on illegal downloading, they also need to be embracing the idea. Many networks have hopped onto iTunes, with some great results. People will download stuff whether its legal or not. They need to realize that there is a way to make money, not just protect it.

  56. None says:

    The writer of this claims that he hates the Apple Bee’s commercial, but the provides a like to the very thing he hates. Hippocrit.

    (Editor’s Note: Do you want to be a lawyer when you’re all growns up?)

  57. imjustsayingisall says:

    The writer of this claims that he hates the Apple Bee’s commercial, but the provides a like to the very thing he hates. Hippocrit.

    For Christ’s sake, read over your post before you hit the Post button. This is not a sentence. Also, that’s not how you spell hypocrite. Especially when you’re trying to tell somebody else off, bad grammar makes you look like an ass.

  58. Karmakin says:

    The real issue here, is that content companies just don’t want to compete. They don’t believe they have to. They’re content (ha) to rely on monopolistic laws to rule the day.

    But what they’re doing, is flushing dollars down the toilet. People want to consume more. It’s just a matter of content providers to change their business model to allow it.

    Let’s take TV shows for example. Leaving out ad-free cable, imagine this.

    There’s an application, that uses the BT protocol to download official authorized copies of a TV program, with the torrent started an hour after the show premiers (probably on the West Coast. But you can “program” the program to automatically start the download overnight, and have it done the next morning). Then the program plays in the program (with a Full Screen option). Including advertisements, of course, without the ability to fast forward through them.

    This does several things. It allows people to not have to “choose” between shows in a timeslot (*ahem*. 9:00PM on Tuesdays. House or Scrubs. Painful :( ), as well, they can watch the shows whenever they want. Especially people who work nights, which is a growing number of the desired 18-35 demographic. Which actually gives more time to watch programs, etc.

    Music:Pandora.com. The RIAA should have had this done pronto in the face of Napster. Their loss.

    Movies:Movies are not in that much trouble. I think this is because a combination of NetFlix and the multi-plex have taken away a lot of the reason to download them.

  59. anonymous troll says:

    I steal because I have to; here’s the deal:

    1 – I don’t use credit/debit cards (there it is, in your face)

    2 – I live on the other side of the planet in a country that doesn’t speak my language (and vica versa).

    3 – there are no outlets for me to purchase the serivce / show; not even satellite.

    In short, I am a democraphic oddity who will *NEVER* be large enough for HBO (or anyone else) to market to.

    Is that going to stop me of enoying the showes for whom many advertizing dollars have been spent trying to get me to desire to watch? In short: No. Thse media companies are vicitms of their own advertizing budgets. I will continue to download without remorse.

    Fortunatly, the legal system in the country I currently reside is someting that isn’t abused on a regular basis like the American judicial-industrial complex.

  60. craigtheguru says:

    I don’t download TV programs, but I do have a Comcast HD DVR box and I can attest that it is a monstrosity. I cannot wait for the Series 3 HD TiVos to be available so I can drop the Comcast sucker by the side of the road. I too have missed the end of NCAA finals and have had programs randomly get dropped, let alone the random crashes. I’ve had a program cut off midway because I started watching it while it was recording. I guess Comcast decided I didn’t need to see the end of the content I was paying for.

    Point is Comcast sucks. If there machine was half as reliable as my current SD TiVo I’d give you the Colbert wag of the finger, but since the Comcast box is such garbage I can look the other way. Really, you have to!

  61. EF says:

    In response to comment 57,

    You can “think” that unauthorized copying should be called “stealing” but the courts disagree. Perhaps you should look up the word “larceny”. You have to deprive someone of their property in order for it to count as stealing. So wish and hope all you want, but the legal definition will not change (and should not change).

    If you set your Bit Torrent client to refuse to upload, you can still download the show (at a much slower rate). Doing this is in no way illegal as you are simply accepting a copy and not copying yourself. The law only covers the act of making the copy (ie the uploaders on the BT network). Downloading the show without uploading has no legal ramifications.

    I would admonish you to actually read up on copyright law but I have begun to suspect that and your kind cannot read… or think.

  62. I don’t believe that it’s stealing. Television stations are sending information through my body right now, without my permission or request, and if I want to view that information a few days later after downloading it from the internet that should be my right. After all, I’ve already had access to it. It’s like someone giving you a book with small print but prohibiting you from seeing someone about getting reading glasses. Premium content is a different story, I agree, but if you pay for HBO anyway then how can downloading a show you’ve paid for the right to view be illegal? As for the no commercials thing, the companies paying for commercials will pay the same amount whether I watch the show or not- my viewership does not in any way influence the amount of money changing hands. Besides, if I taped the show I could fast forward through the commercials legally- in this case someone else is just doing that for me. Plus, it’s not like you’re paying for shows over the internet, so nobody is making a profit off of someone else’s content.

    To summarize, downloading shows for free after they have been broadcast over the air is (or at least should be) completely legal.

  63. EF says:

    In response to Bryan:

    I didn’t mean you. The post I mentioned has been deleted as it had no content and didn’t contribute anything useful.

    As for the airwaves argument, I agree. They pay for a license to distribute their content over public airwaves. I see no real reason that shouldn’t count as placing their content in the public domain. They obviously PUT the content in the DOMAIN OF THE PUBLIC that the FCC regulates. We have the FCC because radio bands interfere with each other and thus form a natural public monopoly. So far, however, this argument has not been held up in court, even though it makes sense.

    As for having HBO and downloading an episode, I mostly agree as well. As a caveat I would say that you cannot upload the content as you have no legal rights to do so. As for a non-HBO person downloading a show, they cannot be legally charged with a crime unless they have uploaded the content, but HBO can request the destruction of any unauthorized copies and you would have to comply or be in contempt.

    Fundamentally, Jefferson was correct when he said,
    “I sincerely rejoice at the acceptance of our new constitution by nine states. It is a good canvas, on which some strokes only want re-touching. What these are, I think are sufficiently manifested by the general voice from North to South, which calls for a bill of rights. It seems pretty generally understood that this should go to juries, habeas corpus, standing armies, printing, religion and monopolies. I conceive there may be difficulty in finding general modification of these suited to the habits of all the states. But if such cannot be found then it is better to establish trials by jury, the right of Habeas corpus, freedom of the press and freedom of religion in all cases, and to abolish standing armies in time of peace, and monopolies, in all cases, than not to do it in any… The saying there shall be no monopolies lessens the incitements to ingenuity, which is spurred on by the hope of a monopoly for a limited time, as of 14 years; but the benefit even of limited monopolies is too doubtful to be opposed to that of their general suppression.”

    Too bad Madison won that argument.

  64. aron says:

    I recently wrote to apple and nbc about this very issue, i had missed a few my name is earl and had no recorse but to dl them w/bittorrent,so for the good of everyone, MAKE YOUR SHOWS DOWNLOADABLE OR WE WILL STILL STEAL THEM !!!!!!! I have no problem paying $2 on itunes to watch a “lost” epp. i missed…. but most shows i can not pay for!!

  65. l0ne says:

    Do we want to really tackle the issue from an international perspective — the usually unnecessary delay between US airing and European air dates (I mean, it’s OK if you want to dub it in Italian or French, but why delay things in the UK?) and the fact that licensors over here “own” both any translated versions they make (fair) and the original language version…

    I mean, how can I say that downloading TV through BitTorrent is bad if the TV show in question will not be available to me in any form for two years, if at all? Who loses? Nobody does ’till Region 2 DVDs come out.

  66. ML says:

    Why not just offer you to log into a section of their website where you can download every show accesibly by your account, in addition to a section in the STB where you can do the same thing…

  67. mike says:

    I think a real simple solution the cable companies particularly could offer is up to one week downloads of previous aired episodes. Think about it this way, the bandwidth usage will not change since your cable box is running non-stop anyways broadcasting shows. But one thing that will change will be an increase in storage of all the shows from the past week. So say at an extreme you have 1000’s channels with 24 hours of shows all in HD at X amount of GB’s per hour would basically amount to:
    1000x24xX = Needed additional storage

    The inital cost to add that hardware might cost a pretty penny to the average consumer but to a business that really is just a drop in the bucket especially with storage space at such low prices.

    Now if the companies don’t want to be nice to their customers and come up with a compromise, I sure hope they don’t try and sue for downloading a show especially if that person is subscribed to that shows channel!

  68. Brandon says:

    That is very true. As a Seattle area HBO viewer, I too have to deal with a shoddy tivo-like product from Comcast. I would like to see the on demand content to stay around a bit longer tho.

  69. Sean says:

    So because you went with a cable provider who gave you shoddy equipment, you are left with no other choice than to download illegally on the internet.

    So if the electric company often screws up my bill due to clerical errors, I can tap into someone else’s and steal it. Hey, I _tried_ to do it the legal way!

    This just sounds like you feel bad about breaking the law and are trying to justify it to yourself. Not having the means to watch it legally the way you want to isn’t justification for downloading it illegally. If nobody out there offers the means to watch the show you want to, don’t buy their service. If more people did that, then maybe they’d, out of a desire to make money, start offering a service that people actually want.

    It’s not like the Sopranos is a life requirement, like food or shelter. You don’t “have” to steal.

  70. Chris says:

    I’m in the same boat, my PVR (also a motorola) is a stinking pile of crap that regularly lets me down with not getting shows properly recorded.

    I also am a complete TV addict, and even with time shifting between east and west coast start times, there are occasionally days where there is just too much to record. I usually download maybe 2-4 hours of cable TV a week.

    I watch them, and then delete them just as I would from my PVR after watching them. I don’t feel at all bad about it.

    There is a very simple way for the TV industry to fix this problem, just make everything they broadcast available for download, AND include commercials. (In fact I think that ABC just started testing this with LOST and a few other shows). The revenue loss to a TV studio when someone downloads a show is entirely advertising based, so easy solution would seem to be just allow legal downloads with embedded commercials.

  71. PAStheLoD says:


    I haven’t read all of the comments, but here is my opinion from a litle different viewpoint.

    What about people not in the USA. The world is heading towards globalisation, but here in Hungary I can’t subscribe to.. say Sci-Fi or Fox to watch SG-1 (yes the season is over now, I know) or 24 .. ok, maybe half a year from now one crappy tv provider in my town will offer a tv station that may provide me the shows, that has been long forgotten by the “western world” ..

    And here TiVo and PVR is not an option .. most people doesn’t even know what’s that thing :C

    And commercials.. I don’t say I hate them, because my feelings towards these abominations are on a new level. I’d kill them if they were people, not phenomenons.. I don’t buy cars influenced by a 20 secs ad, that shows some pre rendered post-tuned video of a car.

    Sure, I know that ads are the main source of revenue for the stations, and I tolerate them, only for this reason.. otherwise the subscription fee of the TV service would be very.. very high.

    So piracy is baad .. on the open seas. But this is something different IMHO.. this is a proccess, the evolution of media distribution.. and even the dinos have extincted. Maybe old, dumb tv providers next?

  72. I agree that HBO has a right to stop its content from being shared… however that needs to happen, short of violating someone’s legal rights (note: NOT to their content, but just in general). Moreover, if someone misses an episode of 24, that does not repeat… and they didn’t record it… or ask a friend to record it… or have any other way of purchasing the episode online… –I’m sorry, they’re simply SCREWED.

    I’m screwed because I don’t have cable, and I think The Boondocks on Adult Swim is hilarious. –We ARE screwed though. We should know better than to believe in this culture of “If its not available, then I have to steal it.” Remember when you just “wanted” something that wasn’t available? Remember those days? You’d write to the company, do a lettr campaign, and maybe something might happen.

    Unfortunately, companies like HBO or whoever will need to get more powerful tools of tracking infringing activity, and give a “chilling effect” to the practice of sharing their content, because until they really raise the volume, people will continue to share that content illegally… and in massive ways (getting a copy from a buddy isn’t generally going to matter, unless your buddy has a factory that makes copies). That’s exactly what file sharing is these days… a massive factory of stolen content. We’re in a “must have” culture these days, and we’ll ignore repercussions as long as we can get away with it.

    My suggestion is that we simply learn to live without, if it compromises what’s right.

  73. Trev says:

    Here’s what they need to do: Provide DRM-free downloads at the same or better quality than those available on torrent for free to those who pay for the cable service and at a reasonable price for those who don’t. The reason many people pirate TV is because there is no alternative with nearly as good quality (iTMS’s 320×240 is not acceptable).

  74. interesting article. there’s so many people using torrents though.

    i agree with you, however, hbo have the right to sue.

  75. Jon says:

    …let me just say that this recorder obeys orders about as reliably as Internet Explorer renders CSS.

    dude, that shit is hilarious.

  76. none says:

    FYI, there’s a useful plugin for Azureus called SafePeer. I don’t know exactly how effective it is, but I enable it. Just in case.

  77. Khanstant says:

    Turns out, you WILL live if you miss a show, and without dire consequences. You do not HAVE to, do not justify your crimes. Just accept them.

  78. None says:

    You have another option when your PVR fails: you simply don’t see that show.

    Really, you should complain to HBO, Fox and who ever else about the terms as well as your cable company. When you pay them you pay for the right to view something they broadcast, you don’t pay for the right to view that content under any circumstances you want no matter what. For example the NFL and some other sporting companies explicitely mention at the end of many broadcasts that you’re not allowed to rebroadcast that to a large group (such as at a bar)

    You don’t have to steal anything, it’s just TV. Life goes on if you miss a couple shows. You might be torqued about it but that’s tough. Bitch to the media companies and the cable companies.

  79. Chris says:

    I think these people that keep saying you are breaking the law really don’t know what they are talking about. I am not claiming to be an expert in this area but I do know a little about it as I have worked with major labels on downloadable content.

    For example, it is totally legal to download AC/DC Back in Black if you have ever bought the LP, Cassette or CD. When you bought that you entered an agreement with the label that you would not distribute it, in any form, but you had the right to listen to it, in any form. It falls under, reasonable use. You don’t own the music or the album itself. The LP, cassette or CD is strictly the medium and you are free to copy to any. It is perfectly legal for you to copy a cassette to a CD for example. You bought the right to copy it, download it or whatever between now and eternity. But, you can NOT upload it as that is illegal distribution. To be safe, technically, you would need to prove you legally purchased it but if you did then you can download or copy it from any source as you have purchased the right to listen to it and copy it within reasonable use.

    HBO is very similar; if you pay for HBO as a subscriber then you can legally view and copy their content. You can NOT upload it or distribute it in anyway. For Example; you can invite your friends over to watch The Sopranos off your PVR but you can not charge them. You can burn it to DVD for your personal use but you can not distribute it beyond reasonable use.

    Reasonable use is actually pretty flexible. I am not 100% sure but it is my understanding that with most content it is actually legal to copy it for a friend to borrow, that is actually considered reasonable use. 1000 “friends” on the Internet obviously goes beyond with copyright holder’s intent which is illegal. Legally you have to not only abide be what is written, even if you have never read it, but what the actual intent of what was written.

    Network TV is a different animal. I don’t have any idea the laws regarding that. Technically it is regionalized as the stations are using public airways provided by the FCC and have an arrangement with the networks that then have an arrangement with the content provides, which may or may not be themselves. I guess it would come down to the signal the content was originally copied from as to what the legal implications might be. If you are not the US I would doubt you have much to fear, if you are in the US then technically you are probably covered by reasonable use via the FCC but again uploading would NOT fall into this and could spell trouble for anyone.

    The point is don’t download “steal, because that is what it is” anything you don’t have the legal right to watch or listen to and never, ever upload anything…….ever!!

  80. Marcus says:

    I download shows all the time, AUTOMATICALLY to my home built PVR (PC with Snapstream Beyond TV 4 and its HDTV ready). Follow my link to see how its done.

    Just scrap the comcast PVR, and build your own. It is rather simple, easy, and i’ve never missed a show since I’ve built my PVR and I’m going on 8 months of use.

    Case : Ahanix D-Vine 5
    Processor/Motherboard: Athlon 2400+, Asus A7N8X-E Deluxe, 2 – Kingston 512 Megs Hyper Memory in Dual Channel configuration
    Video: 128 Meg PNY GeForce 6200 AGP
    Hard Drive: Maxtor 200Gig Ultra Series 7200
    Video Capture: 2 – Hauppauge WinTV 500-MCE
    Wireless: Linksys WMP54G Wireless-G
    Software: Beyond TV 4, Beyond Media 1.1, Firefly Remote, Nividia PureVideo Decoder

  81. Rosewood says:

    You … HAVE to? It is just TV. You missed an episode, now walk away. Just walk away.

  82. Jason says:

    I can understand how downloading HBO shows would be illegal if I am not paying a subscription fee to HBO. But how would downloading over-the-air shows like “Lost” and “24” be illegal? How is it different from using a VCR, PVR, or DVD recorder to record the show? With any of those choices I would fast forward/skip the commercials.

  83. Chris writes: “For example, it is totally legal to download AC/DC Back in Black if you have ever bought the LP, Cassette or CD. When you bought that you entered an agreement with the label that you would not distribute it, in any form, but you had the right to listen to it, in any form. It falls under, reasonable use.”

    Sorry, Chris… unfortunately, its you that doesn’t know what he’s talking about. It’s NOT “totally legal”… but you point is well taken. How well taken? So well taken that Michael Robertson staked his entire business on it by creating “my.mp3.com”. He asserted that if someone purchases content before, that they then have the ability to download that content anywhere. He proceeded to buy a lot of music, and upload it to the website, making it available to ANYONE who can verify they were in possession of the original CD at some point (or even if they purchased the music online through partners).

    Google it. Read what happened. Then come back and say people don’t know what they’re talking about. Disagreeing with it is something much different than assuming your within your rights on this particular issue.

  84. Ryan says:

    I would Just like to say that your terminology that you are using is incorrect, the big media companies propaganda campaign to equate Copyright Infringement with Theft is something that we, the people need to recognize and make a point of correcting. There are laws regarding each of the two, and they are different statutes for a reason. Instead of saying

    Throwing HBO aside for a moment though, I’d like to publicly admit to my ISP (Qwest) and the rest of the world that I, too, steal television shows.

    You should be saying

    Throwing HBO aside for a moment though, I’d like to publicly admit to my ISP (Qwest) and the rest of the world that I, too, am guilty of copyright infrigement.

    You did not steal anything, don’t propagate the propaganda. If HBO or any media company came after you would they charge you with larceny(theft)? No you would be charged with copyright infringement, wich has its own fines and jail terms.

  85. Chris says:

    OptimizeDotNEt writes “Google it. Read what happened. Then come back and say people don’t know what they’re talking about. Disagreeing with it is something much different than assuming your within your rights on this particular issue.”

    Maybe you should read what I wrote. I wrote very clearly that uploading was illegal under any circumstance. That is what mp3.com did to get sued. The RIAA has not, to my knowledge, sued individuals for downloading that content. The experience I have is with this very technology. Not mp3.com but another firm. We were the first to get the rights from the labels themselves to do it. The was mp3.com’s mistake. The label would of shared in the revenues had the venture been successful. Now people have been sued downloading from P2P networks but not from my.mp3.com, see the difference?

    It is a simple fact. If you have bought a CD, LP or cassette you CAN NOT be sued for downloading that CD, LP or cassette. It simply can’t happen, you are very much in your legal right. Again, it would be a very good idea to have a proof of purchase, just in case. If you download something you do not have the right to listen to, you are breaking the law. And unless you have a legal arrangement with the content owner(s) you CAN NOT upload anything.

  86. Michael smith says:

    I have to repeat what others have said and that is is that the way to stop european downloading is to offer us the shows at the same time as the US. I wouldn’t bother if I could watch the shows and know the rest of the season is online.

    The movie industry has adopted this position with success in stopping copies of major films online affecting cinema audiences why can’t the TV industry

  87. Chris said: “It is a simple fact. If you have bought a CD, LP or cassette you CAN NOT be sued for downloading that CD, LP or cassette. It simply can’t happen, you are very much in your legal right.”

    I’d like to agree with you, but I can’t. I’ll preface it by saying, for all I know, you’re right. Regardless, here’s my opinion.

    What I’m thinking is that downloading music from a source other than the copyright holder IS “BY DEFAULT” illegal and NOT within your rights (period, even if you purchased a copy before), BUT, that it isn’t something viable to sue over, because there is no quantifiable chain of custody for the recording. You’re assertion is that, because the recordings are effectively of the same thing, that they are equal. In my opinion, this is just a pretense, but usually such a technicality most people don’t care.

    However, if for instance, I purchased a Harry Potter book on tape, and then downloaded a CD quality version online, clearly I am getting a higher quality product that is demonstrably different than what I’d previously purchased (even though both were effectively generated from the same master recording). Is it really because of the audio quality difference? No, its because the recording was not directly derived from the recording I purchased (its not a copy from MY recording, but someone else’s).

    So… why wouldn’t I be sued? Because #1.) One CD copying infraction alone does not make for a worthwhile case. #2.) Who knows about it? #3.) Proving that one recording is not a backup of another is a level of audio forensics that brings us back to point 1 (not worth it).

    If I purchased a CD recording, ripped it, and “backed it up” to a web server, and shared it with no one… then my home was wiped out by a hurricane. Years later I download it from the web server. I can’t be sued for that. That’s entirely legal. If my friend said “Hey, I’ll burn a copy of mine, and it’ll be just like you never lost yours.”

    It’s a grey area. I can’t agree that its “totally legal” as you originally stated. Like I said though, I might disagree that someone should sue over it, doesn’t make it legal though. A jury might side with the defendant… but if such a case has happened before, I’ve never heard of it.

    Chris said: “–you CAN NOT be sued for downloading that CD, LP or cassette. It simply can’t happen, you are very much in your legal right.”

    Also, I won’t quibble with you much over semantics but I would like to point this out. You’d originally said downloading was “totally legal”, but this sentence says “can not be sued”. Both I disagree are true, but for different reasons. The first, as I argued above… the second quote, because there is no such thing as “can not be sued for”. You can be sued for anything, and not always in persuit of a conviction, unfortunately. Unrelated to this argument, I’m not sure any of the RIAA’s lawsuits successfully went through a trial without monetary settlement from the accused. Sadly.

  88. ATM says:

    You’re not ‘sucking up unnecessary bandwidth’ from Qwest. Qwest agreed to sell it to you at a price. That bandwidth is yours to do with what you like.

  89. Brian says:

    If I remember correctly, didn’t Comcast and TiVo sign a deal that would mean Comcast would be offering TiVo boxes sometime in 2006 or 2007. I think it’s similar to the old DIrecTV and TiVo deal. Should be nice to get an HD-TiVo box from the cable company for $10 per month instead of $600 plus $10 per month .

  90. Chris says:

    OptimizeDotNet writes: the second quote, because there is no such thing as “can not be sued for”. You can be sued for anything, and not always in persuit of a conviction, unfortunately.

    Fair enough, I was a little over zealous in that statement because you are certainly right about that, sadly of course. My point is that the case would not hold water. By US law, all copyright laws must contain consideration for the grantee by the grantor. The grantor, the label, can not put unreasonable clauses in the copyright like you can only use this alone and not in the company of others. Personal Use is considered anything that is reasonable. You are totally right in that anyone can sue because people will always disagree over the meaning of words, especially ones like “reasonable”. But law is based on precedence. Precedence has shown in most cases that I am aware of, again I am not an expert nor a lawyer, that reasonable use is generally been granted a fairly good deal of flexibility for the grantee, in this case, whom ever purchased the original right. I am not 100% sure but I think you might be wrong about the format it is delivered in. If they had made any changes, such as digitally re-mastering or similar, then it is effectively new content and you are infringing to gain a copy without purchase. But, the medium you purchase a product on is not relevant to right to use it. You are buying the right to listen to AC/DC Back in Black within reason. AC/DC Back in Black (re-mastered version) is like a whole new album. You are also right that you could easily, unknowingly, download the re-mastered version and therefore be infringing, assuming you had originally bought a different version.

    This is obviously getting way too technical but my point is that I feel like I am an honest person. I would never want to listen or watch something without paying the artist and those responsible for the privilege. Well, I say never, to-be-fair, I would love to rip off Michael Moore and the Dixie Chicks, but that is another issue. People should be paid for their work and products. At the same time, the owner’s of that content need to keep up with technology, I will not wait for them and should not have to wait. I have bought and lost, bought and lost and bought again countless AC/DC Black in Black, Beastie Boys License to Ill, Led Zeppelin (All), Van Halen (All) and countless other albums, cassettes and CDs. I have absolutely no conscious at all about downloading anything I know I have bought in the past. If I have not bought it then I go to iTunes and pay for it there. I will also then download it in other places so I can get it in MP3 and OGG format. I do not believe I should have to pay three times or burn to CD to only re-rip for the formats I need. It requires no special discipline, I just don’t agree with stealing any content. When I lived in London for a few years I downloaded HBO shows and others. I paid my DirecTV bill in the US the entire time and felt it was perfectly legitimate to do it. I will tell you this, HBO should thank me because I got so many Brits into Six Feet Under and The Sorpranos, their DVD sales should display a notable increase.

    I do NOT agree in stealing or infringing on copyright laws but I will not pay numerous times for the same things because the labels can figure out the technology fast enough. And I have no conscious about it in the slightest.

  91. Jack says:

    I have Cox, but I also have the same Motorola box. However, I believe the software was written by Pioneer, though I could be wrong.

    Anyways, I have had the same problem. There have been times when it just completely stops recording. Even if I try to manually record something, it does nothing. I have to reboot the thing.

    The other night, I missed two shows because the cable was out due to a storm. I see no reason why I shouldn’t be able to download the shows in that situation.

  92. me says:

    So.. let’s see.. if I taped the show via VCR..and watched it later…it’s ok…even if i loan that copy to a friend and he to another…

    but if I DOWNLOAD that show..and share it with other people…I’m stealing…..because of the way that i accquired/distributed it?


  93. Chris writes: “If I have not bought it then I go to iTunes and pay for it there. I will also then download it in other places so I can get it in MP3 and OGG format. I do not believe I should have to pay three times or burn to CD to only re-rip for the formats I need. It requires no special discipline, I just don’t agree with stealing any content.”

    It’s an interesting slippery slope though. Personally, I have purchased every “Harry Potter” book on tape. Since I began on tape, I continue on tape. Yet, I want to play it on my iPod. It is effectively the same recording, yet I’ve downloaded these via Limewire. –If I wanted, I could whip out Audacity, and compose my own digital re-recordings, while playing my tapes… something I’d also like to do with my “American Gods” audio tapes. –Instead, however, I downloaded *copies*. I think the difference is such a minor technicality… but I still think I’m not on the “right” side, legally… I’m just counting on it being a minor issue… like a traffic violation or jaywalking… except, no cop is in my house to fine me for not obeying the speed limit. I definitely think its one thing to take MY recording, and transfer it to other devices (in whatever ways are available), but its something else to get a new recording from someone other than the copyright holder.

    –People used to work all sorts of alchemy in moving audio into formats they want (back in the day), but now people seem “burdened” by things like DRM. I remember having the Star Wars music on record, and hooking up some elaborate rigg just to transfer it to casssette tape. –I remember specifically giving up on my minidisc player because the iPod KICKED ITS BLUE METALLIC ASS. On the minidisc, while I was marking off songs and entering the name of the song on the stupid player controls, I noticed that iTunes licensed its CD database data, and populated it for you upon inserting the CD, –before transferring that info to my iPod.

    If someone had set up shop, selling minidiscs with albums pre-loaded on them… they’d be just as wrong selling them without licenses, as I’d be for buying them in the name of “convenience”… in my opinion. It’s like a sting operation where the undercover officer waits for money to change hands before slapping the cuffs, and reading your rights. He’s saying, “You’re purchasing solen merchandise. –Can you say, “Hey, I have a copy of this at home!!” I’m sure he can turn around and easily say, “Then why are you even here buying this?”

    If someone robbed his own convenience store at gun point, he’s unlikely to press charges on himself, but with recordings, it’s an entirely different paradigm. Just like with software. If I sold you a piece of software, and told you to back it up (as companies do)… and you lost it… I don’t agree that you have the right to have another copy sent to you (I might do it, but I disagree with the “right”), or the right to get an illegal copy and claim you had existing rights to that copy (tracing ownership becomes very problematic after a point).

    You have rights to your copy, and back ups of your copy.

    Oddly, I was watching the news the other day, and they were saying that people were selling their iPods “pre-loaded” with entire music collections. There seems to be legal debate on whether this is a legal practice too.

    I’m still thinking “no”, but I’ve no idea where that’s headed. It’s been some good food for thought though.

  94. Chris says:

    OptimizeDotNet Writes ; “If someone had set up shop, selling minidiscs with albums pre-loaded on them… they’d be just as wrong selling them without licenses, as I’d be for buying them in the name of “convenience”… in my opinion.”

    I have to totally disagree. If someone pre-loads any media, whether it be an iPod or a minidisk they are clearly and blatantly stealing as they are falsely increasing the value of a device due to content they do not have the right to profit from. It is 100% different than a person whom has legally purchased the right to listen to something choosing a different format. You didn’t buy the LP, cassette or CD; you bought the right to listen to the content. That is the legal agreement. And that agreement specifically says you can NOT profit from the content.

    OptimizeDotNet Writes; “If I sold you a piece of software, and told you to back it up (as companies do)… and you lost it… I don’t agree that you have the right to have another copy sent to you (I might do it, but I disagree with the “right”), or the right to get an illegal copy and claim you had existing rights to that copy (tracing ownership becomes very problematic after a point).”

    Depends on the licensing agreement. Every software agreement I have ever read and, as an IT manager I had read quite a few. A media replacement cost is generally involved but it has no effect on the agreement itself and the cost is, generally, just and nominal. I think the standard for Microsoft is $10, that maybe on a piece of software that costs $15 or $15,000. But again, the media is not relevant. You aren’t really buying the CDs that have Office 2003 on them. You are buying the right to use Office 2003 from now until you sell it or die. The CDs are just how they give it to you. As an IT manager and the son of a software developer I am very much against software piracy and that translates to other products as well. At the same time, if I lost my Office 2003 CDs, I am not running out to CompUSA to give MS another $500 for no reason. They just want to be paid by everyone that uses their software, as they should, but only once, as you should. I think the same rules apply with Music and other things as well.

  95. Joel says:

    The new idea of a “networked PVR” might aleviate some of these issues. Comcast I know is working on a system where your set top box doesn’t actually record anything but is just connected to a server at the cable office where ALL content is stored. That way whenever you want to watch that episode of 24 you just download it to your box. No missed episodes. Until this gets ironed out. I’ll stick with my Media Center PC.

  96. CJ says:

    Just an interesting aside, the few times I’ve needed to acquire an HBO show by alternative means have been because of problems with Comcast’s OnDemand service. An episode in the middle of the current season of, say, The Sopranos will disappear or just never show up in the menu. By the time you realize it, the season is already several episodes ahead, so you can’t record off the normal cable channel.

  97. Arrogant says:

    I agree with Chris and Mike. First, I hate the Applebees commercial. I switch the channel for a few minutes to protest it. Secondly I will continue to download whatever I want online whenever I feel like it. If the recording industry and the tv industry don’t like it, then let them offer me a better way. I have over 1100 cd’s, 800 cassettes,400 vinyl recordings, 1000 Dvd’s, 1000 video cassettes, and 600 Laserdiscs. I think that I have supported those industries and will continue; However, I am always finding songs that I can no longer purchase (if they ever were) on cd or cassette and locating the vinyl is getting harder to do. I will download them because I want the song, but no one has it for sale. The same with Tv shows. I pay my cable bill, including paying for networks like HBO that has only 1 show I watch, and If I want to download a episode I missed, I WILL DO SO. I have paid for the content and I deserve to watch it. HOWEVER I acquire it. I do not care what all the whiners moan about “stealing”. I will do it as long as there is a way to do it, and the various companies had better realize that until they offer us what we want, we will continue. All the lawsuits in the world will not stop it.

  98. Sara says:

    OH my god, do you guys hear yourselves? I only read about half of this page because the excuses got to much for me. Firstly, this is TV. It is tv, it is not a necessity, you do not need it to survive, it is a luxury. Secondly, however you watch tv, if you download it onto your computer and watch it that way, it is STEALING! I don’t care if your Tivo didn’t work (hell, I live in the UK and don’t even have one of those!), I don’t care if you missed the episode because you were working, I really just don’t care. Whichever way you put it, it is something that you DO NOT NEED, and it is STEALING. There is just no way to get around those facts and all the excuses in the world that you give doesn’t get around that fact.

    Having said that, I do think that this is something that will continue for the forseeable future just because quite a lot of people are like you, and don’t have the morals that they should have. I’m not saying I’m perfect, but I don’t steal tv shows, I always buy the dvds. and I’m not rich, so don’t use money as your excuse either.

    Oh, and to the last person, I pay for Sky here in the UK, and I barely ever watch tv. I also pay a tv license for the BBC, and I never watch anything on the BBC! I pay it because I have too. You should be paying for any movies/tv shows that you watch because you it is the law and it is the right thing to do.

    Get some morals.


  99. I know what you mean, I know lots of people do this, but its a great idea. Buy the TV card for a computer to watch HBO on the computer and record their shows online too, then convert them to the file you want and rename, after that HBO won’t be able to track you down. But if they do, they won’t close your channel because it is being broadcasted all over the network, I don’t think HBO is able to block your IP address or anything like that. Take care. Bye.

  100. Mike D. says:

    Sara: Like I said… yes, it’s stealing. I know that. However, I paid for it so I don’t feel guilty about it. For me, it’s no different than paying for a movie ticket, having the usher not let me in because he’s a jackass, and then sneaking in the back door. I’ll do that every day of the week.

    I think you’re taking the headline a little too literally.

  101. Chris says:

    Sara writes “I only read about half of this page ”

    Maybe you should read the whole thing. Morals have nothing to do with it unless you are downloading something you have not paid for before or current, whatever the case may be. You are forced at gun point to pay for the BBC in the UK, shouldn’t you be able to download anything this BBC has air? It is yours, you did paid for it. that is the agreement.

  102. Austen says:

    Where I live in the Middle East we do not receive any of my favorite North American TV shows in a single legally packaged option, so I truly am forced to steal ALL of my shows.

    I probably download an average of 10 episodes of various shows per week. I actually prefer it to TV because I can lay in bed with headphones on and get up close and personal with my widescreen laptop.

  103. DWBjr says:

    No one is forced to do anything. You want to do it, so you do it. This “forced” business is just rationalizing bad behavior. Once upon a time, people didn’t have that many options, but now… seeing a free show, people think… “Oh, I just have to have it! I’m being forced to steal this show!” It’s not true. Just do something else. Amazingly, not everyone should feel entitled to watch anything. I could say I’m “forced” to steal anything based on my financial situation, or my location, or my life… in truth, you can sit and watch whatever you choose. Personal responsibility isn’t dead, just largely ignored.

    (Editor’s Note: Yes, and nuance in language seems to be ignored a lot as well. :) )

  104. Sara says:

    Firstly, to Mike, you wrote this:

    *Like I said… yes, it’s stealing. I know that. However, I paid for it so I don’t feel guilty about it.*

    So first you admit that its stealing, and then you say that you paid for it, so you don’t feel guilty. That is basically in direct opposition to each other. You cannot be stealing AND have paid for it, because if you have paid for it, then it is not stealing. Its kind of like if I buy a cd, and that cd breaks. I am not then entitled to steal a cd from a shop because hey, I”ve paid for it before. I’m also not entitled to go online and download it – its the same thing as stealing it from that shop. You pay for the cd itself, not the rights to the music. Its wrong, and you obviously know its wrong and are doing it anyway. Don’t you have any morals? Why not just go to the shop and steal it, as that is effectively what you are doing anyway? Oh, that’s right – its easier to catch someone stealing from a shop that it is to catch them online. Its wrong, and whether you are going to get caught or not for it, you shouldn’t do something that is so obviously wrong.

    As for Austin, I agree with what DWBjr has to say – you are not forced to illegally download movies or tv shows just because they don’t sell them in your area. You have no rights to those tv shows at all, and what you are doing is wrong as well.

    I live by the morals that I have in my life, I don’t steal from people or companies, or from anything, and I always expect others to live with the same morals. Its a shame that so many people don’t see the error of their ways, and realize that they are not entitled to things just because they are here, alive, and they want them now.

  105. Roman says:

    I guess P2P sharing is becoming more dangerous and riskier. Especially in the States. Nevertheless one could still opt for one way downloads or watching those shows and movies directly on the web (like on contentstock.com that indexed over 6000 shows). The latter is untraceable. =)

    My principles are also against web-stealing. But it’s very hard to tell whether the material you are viewing online is copyrighted or not. This does not only apply to videos, but sounds, articles, etc.

    I found a middle way for myself by telling that as long as I can get something free, I get it. With one condition: I don’t propagate this (i.e. share on). So I don’t use P2P networks. If I download something it doesn’t hurt anybody to much as I don’t upload it anywhere else.

    And if I really like it, I buy the original.

  106. DranzerX13 says:

    First of all i’m a japanese animation fan. There are some real shows
    I like too, along with movies with real people in it. I read all the posts
    on this subject matter, felt the need to explain and ask something.

    Show: Dragon Quest Dai no Daibouken (The Adventures of Dai)

    the show’s original language is japanese. you live in a place not showing this show at all. There are no VHS/DVD of the show in existance, the show only aired in japan, france, spain, mexico. The show started in 1992, aired in those places only for a short period of time and only had 46 episodes. mostly the only version available to download are the spanish episodes ripped from a spanish TV station.
    The only way to watch this show is by downloading it. it no longer is on TV.

    If it was avaliable on DVD I would buy it. if it was on TV I would watch it. I wouldn’t be downloading it if there were VHS/DVDs of it that I can buy. even if it were edited I wouldn’t care as long as I get to see it. heck there aren’t even japanese import DVDs of it either. if there was i’d buy those too. plus just because a show isn’t popular enough and isn’t put onto VHS/DVD, it doesn’t mean the show isn’t enjoyable.

  107. It has always been stealing. the only difference nowdays is we have switched from analogue mediums with which prior it was impossible to make a perfect copy of something and a physical copy was evident when you made a copy, now in the digital age copies are easy to make and always perfect. Because of this many think old rules dont apply but it is the exact same thing as copying a tape on a tape to tape rack back in the 80s. many did, many thought it wasnt wrong..

  108. Soopy says:

    I’m not trying to be mean but you should dump cable and go back to satellite. DirecTV and Tivo just announced a 3 year extension to their deal so my DirecTivo will keep working for at least 3 years.

  109. Freddy says:

    In the beggining there where no adds at all on cable tv, so by dl tv shows we are getting things done right again…wait…the cable company lose advertising $$$ because of this?, well, the hell with them, they already got our money for tv without adds and suddenly they want more money and what we see is tv with guess what… ADDS as in the public FREE broadcasts, to me that’s stealing so…

    I do prefer to download the cable tv shows to skip the adds, as I’m already paying for them and no, I don’t like adds leave them for the public tv.

  110. Murray says:

    Im from the UK an i dont see downloading a TV torrent and watching it at a later date is stealing, how many people used to set there VCR to record and watched your films, soaps amd show at you own time? what is the difference in getting a digital version to play on your PC? not alot if u ask me, 1 in the Uk ratings are not affected as the TV is a reciever and does not give an output as to what is being watched, 2 i have a TV license which i pay for, 3 we have BBC which has no advertising, so really by downloading a TV show especially a BBC documentary is not stealing and just the same as sticking it on VCR. and as i pay a TV license over hear the TV companies already have my money before i even switch on the set.

  111. Sara says:

    I currently live in the UK as well, though I am American and will be moving back there at the end of August. I too have to pay a tv license, and I do see your point about BBC shows and documentaries. However, most of the things that people are downloading and taking are not from the BBC. Not to mention the fact that as far as I understand how torrents work, you download it off of someone else, while someone else downloads it off of you. I’m sure that everyone contributing to this process does not pay towards a tv license.

    Having said all of that, my husband often misses BBC shows that he wants to watch, and the BBC is really good in offering the programs on their websites. So he simply goes on his laptop later on to the BBC website, and watches it off of there. NO stealing, no fuss. So if you’re talking about BBC shows, why don’t you just do that? That way no one can accuse you of stealing as the BBC allows this to happen by putting the shows on their website.

    As for regular shows though, however any of you spin it, everyone knows thats its stealing. If you didn’t think that it was deep down, you wouldn’t respond so vehemently to someone who outright admits that it is stealing, and therefore does not do it (ie me).


  112. steffyboy says:

    Since the dawn of the video recorder this debate has gone
    on and on and is tiresome. If speeding is illegal why make a
    car that can travel at illegal speeds. If recording is illegal why
    make it available ?

    I currently reside in Australia and dearly miss access to UK
    TV. Many shows are not shown here , many shows are not
    available on DVD here or in the UK. It takes 2 years for films
    to even make these shores if they are deemed worthy enough.

    I don’t believe in local laws if I don’t live locally. If I download
    LOST because my local provider sees fit to show it 6 months
    after it has aired in the US then boo-hoo to them. It’s up to
    them to fix that.

    Techincally if it doesn’t exist locally it can’t be illegal for me to
    have a copy. If I can’t acccess something I’ll get it any way I
    see fit.

    Put simply if it was available i’d pay for it .. I have cable and pay
    for all the channels …what more can I do !! Just hurry up and give me access to everything already !!! And quit making me wait.

    I am being arrogant but mainly because I’m angry ;-))

  113. andrew Knapp says:

    Yeah, here’s a REAL problem we have in our world today. Let’s devote our resources to saving TV.

  114. Blake1001 says:

    I live in the UK and altough we do receive many US shows like the Simpsons, Friends, Frasier etc on Sky TV shows like the Sopranos and Arrested Development are shown spuradically and often in the early hours of the morning, seasons often air up to a year after they air in the US. Shows such as How I met Your Mother and American Dad do not appear to be aired in the UK at all.

    I use torrents and Usenext to download TV shows, often 10 per week. With home Internet connections now speeding up to 10mb shows are becoming well seeded and I frequently download a show at 200kb/s+ and within 30 mins. Also entire seasons are readily avaiable and these download within a day or so. The quality of these shows is also very good, I can’t tell the difference between downloaded content and live tv. I stream these over Media Centre onto a 32″ HDTV.

    A few of my friends download TV shows off the Internet, we know that it is illegal but there seems to be no threat of being caught and no alternative. If I lived in the states I would subscribe to HBO and receive shows in high definition but at the moment there is no real alternative. I do purchase shows on DVD at the end of each season for future viewing and to contribute to the TV studios, actors and writers.

  115. Antonio Hamilton says:

    Two words Mike SLING BOX!! look it up its awesome

  116. Share TV says:

    1) It is possible to watch downloaded tv shows directly on your HDTV. I have my PC connected to a 50″ plasma and I get a better picture with downloaded shows than my normal cable. Not quite as good as HD channels though.

    2) As for speed. I’ve seen popular shows added before they finished airing in my timezone and I’ve downloaded an hour-long show in under 10 minutes in HD quality.

    3) I agree that we must support our shows so they don’t get cancelled. So users should only download tv shows if they are already paying for that channel. And buy the DVD if you don’t continue to watch it live with advertising. Doing so I think downloading tv shows will actually help the tv networks. Many of the larger networks Fox, NBC, etc. are starting to put their shows online themselves.

  117. rob says:

    how about this, please content providers, just because I am outside the US and Canada doesn’t mean that I can’t speak English or that I am a Canadian. Yes my IP is German because I work here, but I like English TV, not the shit that is spun here English TV dubbed (very well actually, the Germans are the kings of dubbing) to German…. I hate it and want to watch shows where I can hear people’s voice… man its crayz

  118. Geoff says:

    I only Download tv shows that i plan to buy on dvd when they come out (in 2 years). The delay in transmition between USA and austrailia is stupid especially considering we are still only just seing ep 10 of stargate atlantis season 2 and stargate sg1 is only up to season 8 ep 3 (i think they rarly show it). This is the main driving force behind downloading files both games and movies people are sick of wating months or years to have the entertainment that is enjoyed by there freinds overseas. So arange to aquire a copy by the only means posible Illegal downloading it.

  119. haseebo.com says:

    Interesting blog entry about stealing TV over BitT

    I enjoyed this blog entry which details why despite believing in HBO’s right to enjoin downloaders from stealing episodes of the Sopranos, he’ll continue to do it.

  120. thynkpad says:

    Is it Piracy if….

    I was just reading this article in Mike Davidson’s blog, and I wanted to share it with everyone because most of us have cable, and sometimes, we miss crucial minutes of our show. Some will just call a friend to

  121. haseebo.com says:

    Driven to Piracy by the Man

    I agree with him that keeping consumer choice painfully limited actually encourages folks to find that torrent file and download yesterday’s episode of Dancing with the Obese or whatever it is they’re watching on TV these days.

  122. […] As a TiVO lover and a web developer, I had to laugh at this let me just say that this recorder obeys orders about as reliably as Internet Explorer renders CSS. That is to say, sporadically, sloppily, and at times, without reason.Mike Davidson: I Steal Television Shows Because I Have To […]

  123. Jonas says:

    I steal television because there is a huge gap in quality between original audio and dubbed-over (I live in one of the countries with target audiences big enough to make overdubbing worth it).
    A few shows you cannot watch at all because the TV channels’ selection of US or British shows to bring over here follows TV target demographics which seem to love America’s Next Top Model, American Idol and so forth.

    I do not feel very bad about it, to be honest. I know it is the digital equivalent of stealing cable. But it is oh so very easy to do.
    Furthermore, I do not feel bad for the broadcasting stations since a) they often have recent episodes on their websites anyway (which, due to regional limitations, I cannot watch) and b) I would not be good for any ad revenue because most of the advertised products are not sold here.

    Prosecution of filesharers has started but is very slow. Watching TV on the internet via streaming video and linksites galore makes this even easier to circumvent – if video-hosting sites do not know what is hosted on their own servers, I assume they also have a hard time passing on visitor’s info to prosecutors.

    American and Canadian viewers have tons of choices when it comes to watching TV shows. You have TiVo, Netflix, …
    We don’t.
    This does of course not give us the right to just pirate our way into your level of comfort. But instead of waiting years for the DVD to come out (desperately hoping that the less popular but infinitely better niche shows even make the cut), I’m stealing TV.

  124. Jonas says:

    A quick addendum: I just read Rob’s comment on the quality of German overdubbing. While it is better than, e.g., Spanish overdubbing – I still believe the Spanish overdubbing voice actor community consists of around 11 people – once you’ve watched a show in its original you don’t want the copy. For me it’s like trying to get a replacement high by huffing paint.

    And an addendum to the ease of things: I set my Stage6 player to automatically download the episodes once they finish streaming. That way I can close and de-clog Firefox and watch the shows whenever I want. It’s basically homemade TiVo.

  125. Phil Paonessa says:

    Does anyone know of a site where i can get the HBO series “Dream On”, seasons 3-6? They made seasons 1 & 2 and then stopped making more but I understand that the show still runs in the UK..

  126. bob says:

    in my opinion if you buy a dvd and decide to share it with othere you ar intitled concidering you baught it it should be your to do what you wish . olso if anyone that steals films has half a brain thay would use an ip blocker such as peer guardian whitch can be downloaded from pheonix labs . unfortinatly it is not compatablr with vista but in that case there is many good ip blockers you can buy from around 50 pound a smal price to pay to keep your right to privacy

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