Recently I was chatting with friends over lunch. They were regaling me with how wonderful the new 'Caprica' pilot is. Caprica is a semi spin-off show from Battlestar Galactica, which all good geeks know is a Sci-Fi has just recently finished after four series.
However, we're in London. Caprica's 2 hour pilot was not shown on commercial TV in the US, as the rights owners recognised that the show should be primarily downloadable, and it was a successful viral launch campaign. At the moment Sky have purchased the rights and will broadcast this in the UK soon, but not yet. However, both my friends had seen it. Nobody asked how this was possible, nobody much cared.
Later on this week a friend mentioned to me thay they are making their way through various old TV shows that have many many episodes, half of which have been screened legitimately over here, and half of which have been screened, but only in America. My friend intimated that they had seen all of the episodes. "Oh have they released a box set?" I asked enquiringly. I was met with stony silence.
Like the Lily Allen song, everyone is doing it. We are all illegally file sharing. Or at least it seems that the vast majority of internet-savvy 20 to 40 year olds refuse to put up with the inconvenience of patiently waiting for a series or a film to be shown and, more importantly, the idea of paying for it.
Illegal file sharing has almost gone mainstream. I have been following Virallity on Twitter which is a site that posts videos of recently aired US TV shows on its site for viewers to watch. I always say that the normal legal test with these things is, if it feels suspect, it probably is. Virallity may well be perfectly legitimate, but this doesn't explain why many of the videos mysteriously disappear very soon after posting. If you take a look at how it works, this also is very peculiar. In fact it makes me think that the individual poster does all the dirty work and Virallity manages to obtain their personal details in the process.
It was interesting to see the great deal of media hoopla regarding the leaked unfinished 'Wolverine' film, but this just shows how widespread intrenet piracy has become. Once something becomes part of the social fabric, the lines between what's morally and legally sound increaingly blur. We'd probably all laugh now about when kids used to record radio programmes or films on televison back in the good old days of VHS and cassettes. That was always viewed as one of the great 'unenforceable laws'.
Yet the current general consensus seems to be 'I am a consumer, give me what I want and give it to me now'! I believe that modern law-makers, Networks and programme makers need to wisen up, otherwise greedy people power will swallow up any profits on finely crafted material.
Ultimately, I think increased piracy is a good thing. The internet is a whirlwind force and it has never been effectively policed. Once big Hollywood Studios see profits fall, and thus hard work and creativity diminish in value, then they may make greater efforts to crack down on piracy. We, the consumer, may not receive our media as immediately or as cheaply as we'd like, but just because we can, do we deserve to?