Tuesday, August 30, 2005


Copyright battles over films and TV shows are only on our patch at a tangent, but we think it's worth mentioning these comments from the MPAA's director of worldwide anti-piracy, justifying the heavy-handed use of the law to close down Bittorrent sites:

"Internet thievery of all creative materials is unacceptable and these thieves need to realize they are not anonymous," said John G Malcolm, the MPAA's director of worldwide anti-piracy.

"Every television series depends on other markets - syndication, international sales - to earn back the enormous investment required to produce the comedies and dramas we all enjoy and those markets are substantially hurt when that content is stolen.

"On this site, anyone in the world can download entire television seasons in a single click."

According to a recent report, TV piracy leapt last year as fans of TV shows - particularly American programmes - downloaded episodes before they were show on television.

The Envisional survey said Britain led the world in online TV piracy, accounting for a fifth of illegal downloads, compared with 7% in America and just 2% in Spain.

The curious might raise an eyebrow that the level of downloads is so high in the UK. Is that because we're more evil in the UK when it comes to TV shows? No, not really - the reason why the British download three times as much TV as the Americans is because there's less encouragement for the US to download stuff, as the big download draws like ER, 24 and Lost get shown there first. Nobody would bother piddling about watching Lost on the computer if they didn't have to wait so long for the programmes to make it to British screens. You could reduce TV show piracy at a stroke by bringing programmes online simultaneously both sides of the Atlantic.

But since that's not happening, the fact the MPAA are going to law must mean they're losing a small fortune - all of those downloaders are taking international sales from the TV companies, right?

Erm... in which case, how Sky TV boss James Baker is complaining that the cost of US imports is now so high in Britain - the leading nation for downloaded TV, remember - that it's probably going to be cheaper for it to make its own programmes instead of buying them in?