Point by Tim Hadick
Many college students pirate TV shows. They do so for various reasons, including not wanting to pay for premium cable subscriptions or their favorite shows are not online the day after they air. While anyone could argue that students should budget their finances or watch shows as they air, in this day and age, with college expenses and not having time to watch shows at their scheduled times, there’s no practical way anyone can manage paying for more than Netflix. It comes down to the fact that viewers want to enjoy popular shows and sometimes cannot do so through mainstream channels.
The Sydney Morning Herald reports “Game of Thrones” director David Petrarca as saying “illegal downloads did not matter because such shows thrived on ‘cultural buzz’” in an article online Tuesday. It’s this buzz surrounding “Game of Thrones” that drives student fans to pirate the show: there’s no easy, cheap access to it.
Another Morning Herald article published online two days later reports Petrarca backtracking on his previous statement.
I encourage TV lovers to watch shows on Hulu, Netflix and individual, official TV streaming sites, but some shows (“Girls,” “American Horror Story” and “Californication”) are generally out of reach for a student. Those privileged enough to have parents with an HBO Go subscription are able to enjoy “Game of Thrones’” latest episode; the hype they create among their friend groups leads to a need to watch the show.
While the University issues a message to freshmen about not pirating, those warnings are generally geared toward using torrent software and downloading content. These warnings are geared toward peer-to-peer services, where the active downloader is also the uploader of content. Most of my pirate friends just watch shows on streaming sites: a nice window pops up on our screens and the files that play disappear as soon as they close out of the window. There’s very little guilt involved, and there shouldn’t be.
Piracy should always be a last resort to viewing content, but it should be tolerated when circumstances push viewers to watch shows illegally. If only they didn’t have to resort to watching shows on sketchy sites.
Counterpoint by Colin Kellogg
Even though you may not be paying for pirated content, someone else is. I’ve often heard people rationalize the use of pirated content by saying, “Well, it’s not like the highly-paid stars will miss the cash,” but celebrities are not the only ones whose work goes into TV shows and full-length films. A television episode or movie is the work of so many other people: writers, producers, cinematography staff, the sound and effects teams, as well as hair and makeup artists. And then there are the engineers and tech people who make sure we are able to enjoy the content we love in the variety of digital formats we crave it. As someone who hopes to be involved in the media industry someday, I don’t watch pirated content out of respect for the hard work and creativity that goes into making the magic of TV and film.
Sites like Netflix and Hulu Plus are relatively inexpensive when you consider the multitude of documentaries, TV episodes and movies literally at your fingertips. In a time where movie tickets often average $10, spending that same amount per month to enjoy hours and hours of recent releases in the convenience of my apartment isn’t bad at all. With Hulu Plus, I am able to watch FOX shows like “New Girl” only a day after they air. This allows me to be caught up on the shows I love, not a week behind. If the shows you love are really that important, forking over a few extra dollars a month shouldn’t be a problem. Though I personally struggle with my limited access to HBO shows (I’m obsessed with “Game of Thrones” but have only been able to buy season one), the ability to own DVDs of some of the most well-written, beautifully filmed shows on television (without spending time to search through sketchy sites on my computer) is well worth the wait.
Pirated content comes with risks - and even the slightest risk of contracting malware on my computer makes me balk. My entire life is on my computer, and potentially exposing very personal information to the eyes of hackers - not to mention dealing with my computer being out of commission while malware is removed - is not worth satisfying my privileged, first-world desire to watch any show or movie I want.