Obdormio.com Unwasted Hours

5 November, 2012

Musings on Piracy. I Mean, Arrrr.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — Obdormio @ 00:00

I’m fairly certain there is a name for the phenomenon that the easier way wins out, that the concept is formulated in a law named after some clever word-smith who managed to relate the path of least resistance to consumer activities. I’ almost completely positive that there is such a named law when it comes to user interfaces for computers, that states that a better interface is the one that requires the least number of actions. For all my googling, though, I can’t find these names, so I shall have to proceed without them.

The point is, consumers will do what is easiest. We’ve heard this in the debate about piracy for some time, and it is obviously true, but the legitimate content providers are very, very reticent about being the ones providing the easiest path. In my youth, I downloaded shows I wanted to watch, because they weren’t on TV where I lived, and I really wanted to watch them anyway. There was no way to get them legally, so I downloaded. Arr, me hearties, etc.

I stopped that after a letter from MGM scared me straight.

Anyway, that’s years ago, but the situation today isn’t all that different. There’s loads of good TV being made, and not much of it makes its way to channels near me – or if they do, they do so months or even years after original airing. Being fickle consumers seeking instant gratification, the pirates are there to fill the gap. I manage to stay on the right side of the law while still getting to see the shows I want – it’s all technicalities. Morally, what I do is no different from piracy, I know, but legally, I’m in the clear. And I do it, because pirates successfully deliver the content in the easy way that the legitimate content providers won’t. It’s not a matter of wanting it for free; even in my downloading days I would go out and buy the DVDs as soon as they were available. It is about ease of access. I have always maintained that I would prefer the completely legitimate way. People in the US have it easier there, with services like Hulu and Netflix.

But now, see, Netflix has launched in Norway! My legitimate path is open to me!

And it’s still shit.

Well, OK, not completely. Netflix Norway has a very limited selection of shows and titles, and most of them are at least a couple of years old. They have shows that are currently airing, but only let you watch up until a couple of seasons ago. I assume this is because the industry is still locked in the model of thinking that gave us the utterly moronic zone system on DVDs – they want to control when people in various regions get to watch their stuff. And never mind that with current technology, they can’t.

I do sort of sympathise with the problem here. I imagine the profits from sales of airing rights to various markets are significant when it comes to making TV. And I don’t want TV production stifled by lack of funds. I’m not really sure what the solution is, but the Internet has so globalised communication that the model just doesn’t work any more.

So, Netflix Norway has poor selection, and I can only get it to work in (gag) Internet Explorer, and it only has Norwegian subtitles with uninspired language. It’s a step in the right direction, at least. I’ve spent the past couple of days diving into some older shows I might not have bothered with had they not been all that was on offer. Andromeda┬áisn’t bad, it turns out. Presumably the selection will expand in the future, but until I can actually watch the latest episode of Modern Family as soon as it’s aired in the US, it won’t hold a candle to the pirates.

And isn’t that just a sad state of affairs.

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