Dq4RwHere’s another one of those webcomics that calls attention to the issue of piracy as service problem. (Note: not really worksafe due to some R-rated language.) Although the strip concerns a television series, anyone who has ever wanted to buy an e-book that is not sold in his particular country or format will recognize the situation. (We once covered a different comic on a similar idea about the problems with audiobook DRM.)

The strip chronicles The Oatmeal cartoonist Matthew Inman’s effort to find and purchase HBO’s Game of Thrones series. He is fully willing to pay to see it, but is stymied at every turn by its complete lack of availability in formats he can use. Netflix doesn’t have it, iTunes will gladly charge $39 for the season pass but only has featurettes available. It’s not on Amazon, Hulu Plus redirects to HBO, and HBO only has some clips up and wants him to upgrade his whole cable service to be able to watch online.

Guess what solution is left?

Of course, nothing says that media publishers have to make their content available for consumers to purchase in what they see as a reasonable timeframe. And that lack of availability does not mean people are morally entitled to pirate it. But realistically speaking, in this digital age where people have gotten used to getting what they want right when they want it, a lot of people who might otherwise have been willing to pay for it will feel justified in ripping it off if they can’t—so regardless of who is right or wrong, those publishers are probably costing themselves and the people who created the works they’re publishing money.

(Found via Techdirt.)


    • Well, he doesn’t actually have any cable service–because he prefers using all the on-line viewing services he checked first. So that’s a non-starter for him, too.

      The point is, I’ll agree with you that not being able to get it now is not an excuse…but it may be an explanation. Our instant-gratification world is inculcating impatience in otherwise law-abiding consumers. It may be that publishers changing their ages-old attitudes about windowing may be the best way to “fight” piracy.

  1. this was exactly my experience for season one. not sure what i’m going to do for season two when it starts april 1, but if they don’t get their act together, it may end up the same way. and no, i don’t feel guilty about it at all.

  2. I don’t buy into this slating of ‘instant gratification’. It’s too lazy and too easy.

    The Music and Publishing and Entertainment industries have spent a century encouraging us to respond ‘instantly’ and buy their product ‘instantly’. That is the truth of the matter. Look at all of their advertising going back yonks. It is they who have created this yoke for their own necks.

    And I would also say that this continual moralising argument about ‘justification’ for piracy is yet another waste of space. The issue is not justification, but as Chris correctly says, explanation.

    If you get hung up on ‘justification’ then you will never deal with the issue, or overcome it. Only by dealing with, and engaging with, the ‘explanation’ will success ever be achieved. The rest is just self indulgent time wasting.

  3. Howard, you’re just refusing to accept that consumers are also at fault for resorting to illegal acts when “instant” isn’t instant enough for them. “Instant gratification” isn’t easy or lazy; it is the most expensive, resource-intensive and high-activity way to provide goods and services. It has driven companies to bankruptcy, it has caused companies to put untested and unfinished products to market, and it has created a “use now, trash tomorrow” culture that is killing our planet.

    And when companies finally run up against the wall, and can’t produce any faster, consumers condemn them for “not being good enough,” and using that as an explanation for stealing from them.

    This isn’t a matter of rhetoric. This is a matter of resources, time and patience. Companies need more time and resources. Consumers need more patience.

  4. Steven. On the contrary I am not denying their fault/responsibility. I have made it clear repeatedly that what I mean is that arguing about blame and responsibility is a pointless waste of time. It achieves nothing yet people continue to indulge in it. It won’t change people’s behaviour. What the industry needs to do, if it wants to do anything, is tackle the reasons behind it.

    We can agree to disagree about this instant gratification thing. The industry created it and cannot now moan about it. It doesn’t justify anything, but it explains a lot. That’s where I stand.

    The level of piracy is also astronomically over stated and I believe that the reliable research shows it actually helps most of the media industry.

  5. For me, the idea of a publisher not making an e-book available to me because of either not being in the right country or not having their e-reader means that they not see me as a customer. This is happening more and more with some publishers who have deals with some e-book providers to initially distribute through one website. Doing this means that they do not want my business.

    Therefore, I believe that I am not the one depriving them of revenue if I download a pirated version.

    I also finding it incredulous that an e-book has different prices depending on which part of the World you live in. WTF? Who is being ripped off? Is it the publisher/Author if I get a pirated copy or me when I pay over the odds? Please give me a good reason as to why I have to pay more than someone else for the same ones and zeros, and then I may start to buy books again.

    Make it available for everyone equally and then the publishers may have a reason to complain about piracy. Until then, get back in your cave

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