John Birmingham skewers Game of Thrones pirates


blog We’re huge fans of the Fairfax blog of author, writer and all-round rabble-rouder John Birmingham. Birmingham — whose blog is named ‘Blunt Instrument’ for a reason — has a rather uncanny knack for putting his finger squarely in the sore spot of public opinion. That’s why we’re so impressed with this somewhat sarcastic post from him this morning (we recommend you click here for the full post) with respect to the Game of Thrones piracy issue. Probably the hero paragraph:

“Is there some sort of internet freetard math I’m unaware of that lets the producers of GoT spend millions of actual dollars making the show while you suck it down off the intertubes for free because somehow the ‘exposure’ will put enough money in their bank accounts to pay for all the writers and actors and camera guys and set designers and costume makers and caterers and editors and special effects dudes and CGI mavens and musicians and lighting and sound techs and drivers and so on whatever and ever amen?”

Personally, I have been somewhat stunned about the incredibly vitriolic reaction which so many readers have responded with, after our article yesterday reporting that Australia, on a per-capita basis, pirates Game of Thrones more than any country in the world, despite the fact that it’s now available locally cheaply and quickly. From the supposed technical shortcomings of Apple iTunes (we haven’t had a problem with it recently) to the apparently exorbitant price of $33.99 for a whole season of Game of Thrones (what, precisely, the correct price would be, we’re not sure, apart from “free”), to the fact that people don’t like using their computers to play content through their TVs (your writer has been doing that personally for a decade now), it seems like Australians just can’t find enough excuses not to pay to watch Game of Thrones.

I’ve thought about exploring this issue in a longer post today. But I’m conscious that the mere suggestion that Australians should pay anything at all to watch probably the most popular TV show in the world would probably make me enemy number one in the minds of most readers — as it appears to have made John Birmingham.

Image credit: CraigPRichmond, Creative Commons


  1. Old habits die hard.

    Just because its available doesn’t mean its going to stop immediately, its going to take time for torrenters to whem themselves off the piracy.

    • Too true. I think this makes a great benchmark to start with and I have no doubt that this news exposure over the last few days has had many people around Australia investigating legal methods to gain access to the latest TV from the US.

      It’s been a long time coming – the time it takes to get new shows has been holding internet tv services back in this and other countries. It’s gonna take a little while to change people’s behavior.

      If only we had better TV shows in Australia…I think “Please Like Me” might be the best Australian comedy since “Mother and Son” but it’s a rare gem these days.

  2. People will do a lot to justify their actions, especially if they know it’s morally objectionable. I expected nothing less from the comments I read.

    I honestly don’t know how studios are going to survive in the future. They may have to go for a new model that involves prepaying for content before production in a KickStarter like style, or internal product placement.

    Either way the end is niegh for big budget production TV shows. They’re becoming unsustainable. The question is can we make them sustainable again, and how?

    That’s a dialogue I want to see, not 200 comments on justification of why people are still pirating. I thought I’d covered it with my comment on the article, one of the first, don’t need 200 more.

    • They’re sustainable but they’re not growing in profitability and since big companies revolve around profitability they will kick up a stink about piracy killing their shows

    • The number one issue is that the studios are tied into the networks which means they are also not exploring new models on how to fund shows. Models that work very well in other areas, but are very rarely being tried on these big production because the risk/rewards aren’t well understood, and the networks control the big productions and these models cannibalize their existing revenue streams.

      I think the savior will be growth of streaming services like netflix been able to give studios not associated with a network a chance.

  3. “Is there some sort of internet freetard math I’m unaware of…”

    LOL, love it.

    Let’s face it, they will keep justifying downloading it for free. They may have even convinced themselves that they are “fighting the man” or that they are “being ripped of by xyz, there taking abc is justified”
    In the end they are just…. “freetards”. I like it.

  4. Sigh

    I noticed a lot of people yesterday that did not know it was even available through iTunes I bought the whole season and still considered downloading it through a torrent to get it the night before I think that needs to be taken into consideration as well has anyone got itunes sales numbers because I bet they are a record as well.

    • I do agree that even one day delay is significant.

      The people who are the biggest fans of Game of Thrones are the ones likely to pay to buy it, and the ones that won’t want to wait a day for it. They’re also likely the ones most willing to buy the Bluray set when it comes out. So many will download asap, then buy later… but for a large number of people if they’ve downloaded it already they’re not going to purchase on iTunes the next day.

      Game of Thrones is my favourite show at present. I’m willing to pay a premium to get it.

      For shows that are not in my top few, I believe being forced to purchase it to be able to watch it once and then delete is… unmotivating. Give me TV show rentals :)

  5. Maybe it’s just because it’s easier. Why do I have a Popcorn Hour set to automatically pull everything I watch off Usenet, PAR check it, extract it, catalogue it, and automatically download cover art and synopsis data so that when I go home and turn my TV on it’s all there immediately ready to watch in HD? Probably because this system was perfected over the many years the content industry dragged (and continues to drag) its feet getting HD online streaming systems in place and I’m now set in my ways because it’s as convenient as it’s going to get. If I wanted to go legit I’d have to download iTunes, sigh while it took over my computer, sign up for an Apple ID, link up my credit card (or load credit on it? I’m not sure if iTunes charges per download or they have some “wallet” system in place), go pay for the limited amount of content our regionally restricting overlords allow me to watch, and then watch it from within iTunes or some other Apple approved application. Or I could do what I’ve done the past 6 years and remotely upload an NZB to my PCH and do absolutely nothing else.

    You’re astounded and amazed that people aren’t rushing out to pay for things that they have perfected methods over the years of getting for free. I’m not going to pretend I’m morally right or anything – yes, I probably should be paying for all this, but at the moment my current setup is infinitely better than the legal options presented to me. This is the problem that studios etc are facing – over the past decade or so people have developed their own streamlined workflows for getting stuff because it hasn’t been available legally, so now that it is, what compelling reason is there to bother giving up the system that has worked so well in the past AND pay money for the privilege of doing so?

    I don’t feel any amazing goodwill toward the industry due to their constant attempts to stifle me doing exactly what I want without coming up with a 1:1 comparable alternative, and nor do I see anyone really hurting from what I’m doing – box office records and TV ratings seem to go from strength to strength so while deep down it’s probably damaging someone somewhere, on the surface it appears to be a victimless crime. I’m not going to pretend what I’m doing is some sort of weird moral crusade like some people do either – I’m just saying that my current habits work best for me and I have no compelling reason to change them (note: suing me into oblivion is not a compelling reason). Maybe eventually as things become less restrictive and more available online I’ll change my ways without really realising (I can’t remember the last time I pirated a PC game), and I’m sure future generations that grow up in an environment where the legal option is the most attractive and easiest to get from the very beginning will stick with it and we’ll see TV/film piracy slowly go the way of music piracy, but for now you’re expecting too much too soon.

    • From my perspective, as long as you can get some form of PC into the loungeroom (Windows mediacentre, Apple TV, laptop via HDMI etc), iTunes is pretty analogous to Steam. Steam has quite a lot of copy protection controls built in as well, don’t forget.

      • I could go buy a PC and hook it up to my TV, but then I’d have to buy a PC and hook it up to my TV to replace my current setup that works fine.

        When you pirate a game you generally have to deal with cracks and possibly multiplayer being broken along with other minor annoyances (plus the potential for viruses but unless you’re exceptionally stupid that is unlikely), and if patches come out that fix bugs you were encountering, you have to go through the whole cycle again. Steam handles patching, game prices are fair (excluding regional gouging), there’s all the social features built in, and Valve have proven themselves competent at running the whole thing (and generally foster a lot of goodwill within the gaming community). So there’s appeal in Steam. Downloading video though involves no cracking or patching or partially broken products or any of that stuff, so a legal alternative isn’t as interesting as it is with Steam (plus I’m one of those nutbags that goes out of his way to not give Apple money). I think the copy protection is less of an issue in Steam as well, as if you’re buying a PC game on it, it’s pretty much a given that you’ll be playing it on a PC and not some alternative device.

        Speaking of Steam though, Gabe Newell got to the point with a lot less rambling when he said “piracy is a service problem.”

        • Hmm social media built into streaming

          and paying for a service that does work ie Netflix is 100% what you are talking about netflix is probably the best platform for consuming media in the world today it works on everything and has a massive amount of content not everything all the time but enough to keep you entertained and Hulu fills the gaps in Netflix and for both in $A it would be $16 a month :O

        • My thoughts and opinions on the subject line up pretty much perfectly with David’s. +1 to you.

          • Yes indeed, +1- the only voice of reason.

            I can’t get Foxtel where I live and I don’t own any apple products.I feel completely fine with downloading GOT knowing that I’ll be buying the blu-ray box sets.

    • You are the *exact* kind of person the article talks about, albeit somewhat smarter/nerdier (not necessarily correlated) than average. Your justifications are lazy and self serving.

      Let’s see:
      a) I’d have to download itunes. Which takes approximately twelve seconds, likely less time than it took you to download sickbeard and SANZB.

      b) ITUNES WILL TAKE OVER MY COMPUTER… yeah. Don’t be silly. It’s not going to invade Poland.

      c) I have to sign up for an Apple account! Oh noes. That will take two minutes of my life. And I will then have some kind of account, similar to the dozens of others I likely have to other Internet Desinations. Quelle Horreur!

      d) I have to enter my credit card or load payment some way. Unlike, say, the way you pay for your usenet blocks and/or ISP. Who operate on rainbows and good feelings. And even if you were paranoid about one of the worlds largest company stealing all your hard earned credit card moneys and absconding to Jamaica, you could pick up an itunes card in cash from hundreds of stores (or, in your case, online and paid for in safe, secure and totally not ridiculous bitcoinze)

      e) I have to pay $x for the content I want blahblah overlords. Not sure what the point here is, unless Game of Thones is magically different to every other entertainment product in existence or something. Do you get mad when you buy a DVD for JB Hifi and they don’t let you watch anything else in the store you feel like?

      f) blah blah overlords only let me watch via itunes and not my personal choice of unsupported media player. Personally, I pirate bluray rips because THE BIG BUSINESS wont let me play them on my linux toaster. I mean, a techsavvy IT donk like yourself could also just plug a HDMI cable into your laptop until you can afford a big boy media centre, or into your Badass Gaming PC. But whatever. Effort++!

      And that’s *just* the iTunes avenue.

      Let’s be honest, you don’t want to pay for it because you can get it for free. And that’s cool, it’s your choice. And I’m not going to tell you that it’s STEALING, or pretend I haven’t done the same many many times in the past.

      But don’t pretend teh industriez are forcing you into it.

      • +100

        It’s not actually the IP theft that bothers me so much, given that HBO itself has said it’s not a huge issue. For me it’s more the crappy justifications people come up with for it.

        If you pirate, either don’t admit it publicly (the same way that most ppl don’t admit they smoke pot publicly) or don’t continually pretend there’s some huge technical justification for it. Increasingly the technical justifications are running out of steam, as we’re seeing with GoT.

        • “If you pirate, either don’t admit it publicly (the same way that most ppl don’t admit they smoke pot publicly) or don’t continually pretend there’s some huge technical justification for it.”

          In an article (with comments enabled) ranting about how could these terrible people possibly pirate things? What were you expecting the comments to be? Getting sanctimonious when people explain their reasoning isn’t going to advance anything here.

      • Wow, I listed why I did it from my perspective in an attempt to explain WHY piracy of GoT hasn’t immediately vanished following the appearance of one episode on on iTunes, and you’ve decided to get worked up into an emotional rant against someone you’ve never met. I’m not playing some sort of victim of evil corporations on a moral crusade, I’m listing out exactly why I (and presumably others) do what I do and don’t see my habits changing in the near future while you and Renai work yourselves up into some snarky ragefit.

        a. I don’t want to download iTunes. I’ve managed to get this far without it. NZBGet was part of the preinstalled software on my Popcorn Hour
        b. It’s a bloated mess that I don’t want on my computer. I’ve used it before and ended up going back to Winamp.
        c. I don’t want to. I take issue with Apple demanding a 30% cut of everythign built for their platforms along with some other reasons. Happily Steve Jobs hasn’t risen from the grave to yell abuse at me because I dare not sign up for an Apple ID.
        d. Like I said, I’m not sure how the CC stuff works. Do they charge my card $1 per song or whatever, or do some prepaid system where you’ve always paid slightly more than what you’ve gotten out of them? If it’s the latter then that makes me less enthusiastic.
        e. See the paragraphs further below for more on this. I’d get mad if I went into JB Hifi and they refused to sell me the DVD because I wasn’t living in the right postcode. The rest of this argument is irrelevant because you’re implying that I’m having a tantrum that because I can’t access one show so I’ll go and grab every other TV show in existence. The argument I am making is 10 years ago I couldn’t get any show, so I set up a whole way to get shows that is incredibly convenient, and now a decade later a bit of content pops up here and there so I should immediately change what has worked for me in the past?
        f. I want to watch on TV via my PCH. Or maybe I want to watch on my PC. Or maybe I want to stick it on a USB drive and watch it in my holiday house. Or maybe I want to watch it on my phone while sitting on the toilet. Maybe I want to sit in my car and watch it on the in-dash GPS screen while waiting for someone. At the moment I can do all these things, with the legal alternative I can’t.

        I am pulling low 6 figures, I can easily afford to pay for season passes for GoT and all the hardware required to go along with it. I choose not to for the reasons I’ve already outlined here and in the previous comments.

        I pay $150 a year ($90 this year due to the shortened season) for NHL Live because it is an amazing product that lets me stream NHL games without any overt restrictions in HD, live on my PC, TV (via PS3) and Android phone and tablet. I pay for the NRL’s crappy Android streaming because it’s live and I don’t see Foxtel as worth it (used to have Foxtel, cancelled once I started wondering why I was paying $105 a month for ~100 channels that were full of garbage 98% of the time). I have a Kindle and buy new books for it every month (the one book I ended up pirating was due to, once again, regional restrictions shock horror). There’s 46 games in my Steam library. I am not against paying for content, but the convenience factor must be greater than what already exists.

        Typing up abuse in your sneering tone isn’t going to have any effect other than make me wonder why you’re so worked up, as I have no emotional attachment to any of these companies. Of course my justifications are lazy and self serving! That is what consumers are! Morality doesn’t factor into it!

        • I’m neither ’emotional’ nor ‘worked up’. I don’t care either way, as I said. I have even less of a problem, economically, with tv copyright infringement than movie/music/game, because the business model and revenue streams are entirely different.

          I just think the justifications that people use – of which, you listed almost all the top ones – are really weak, to the point of being plain silly at times.

          a) And that’s fine, but lets not pretend that ‘I dont want to click on download itunes’ is a justification for taking something you want and not paying for it. You could pay a very reasonable price for the product and obtain it quickly and painlessly, you choose not to.

          b) ‘Bloated mess’? I seem to be able to have half a dozen chrome tabs, excel, acrobat, utorrent, iTunes, a 500gb Lightroom library and a 30 layer 16b tiff (along with various other junk) running fine. It isn’t the nineties, where software actually slows down your machine in the real world. Again, let’s not pretend that ‘i heard that software I might run for 45 minutes a week wasnt well coded’ is justification for taking something you want and not paying for it.

          (speaking of which, I should *really* stop procrastinating)

          c) I disagree with part of this company’s policy towards the charging of their third party suppliers and therefore I feel I should not pay anything and instead of the $2.80 I think the content provider might get, they will get $0 because logic. I also do this in ignorance of the gross profit, COGS and net profit of other businesses from whom I also purchase goods and services – many of whom have far higher gross margins than 30%.

          d) It’s like renting a dvd. You pay $x for y. In fact, usually less since itunes cards are always 25% – 33% off.

          e) Just because you pirated stuff ten years ago when you couldn’t get stuff, it’s okay now because they haven’t improved on your workflow? That’s a weird argument.

          f) Hey, I totally agree with you on that. Portability is still an issue for video. Same reason I always bought CDs when iTunes was DRMed (these days, bandcamp fixed 90% of that) or stripped the DRM. But I daresay those are more content-provider restrictions than Apple ones.

          Oh, just change your address in Amazon as needed ;)

          Like I said, I have (technically) ‘infringed copyright’ thousands of times – sometimes with (generally weak) justification, sometimes just because a product wasn’t worth the purchase price to me… and sometimes just because I was a brokeass uni student. Now that the time:money tradeoff has shifted, so has my behaviour. Hulu and Netflix instant are where it’s at.

          (in this case, HBO is being obstinate in that regards. but I digress)

          • I don’t think David is justifying his piracy he is simply giving you the reasons he pirates.
            I am in the same boat as David, I don’t claim any entitlement to the material produced by content providers, its just easier and more convenient to pirate then purchase.

            I am however annoyed by the people, as the article describes, who provide ridiculous self-justification for the cognitive dissonance they encounter as they try to defend their piracy.

          • “Your justifications are lazy and self serving,” “Quelle Horreur,” “Oh noes,” “rainbows and good feelings,” “hard earned credit moneys,” “blahblah overlords,” “do you get mad…” “big business/Linux toaster,” “teh industriez” are a few examples of an angry, sarcastic and condescending tone, leading to me believing you are getting emotional over this argument.

            a. I think it’s justified (in the big moral scheme of right and wrong it’s week, but in the scheme of “what is the most convenient thing for me to do” it is pretty strong) as I currently have a perfectly working system already in place. If it was my first day on the Internet and I didn’t know all these things as second nature then you’d be right, I’d probably go for iTunes and co.

            b. Last time I used it (circa 2007) it was a bloated mess that took nearly a minute to load (not even joking, that computer was near EOL yet no software struggled as much as iTunes did – which back then at its core was just an MP3 player, something my Pentium 100 could handle without trouble) and didn’t do anything my pre-existing software couldn’t do, and I haven’t had the urge to reinstall it since.

            c. Yes, I disgree with Apple’s policy and therefore don’t like to give them money even if it partially funds whatever I was after. I think this is a problem within the Australian market at least – iTunes is the only game in town for most digital media at the moment.

            d. There’s not really anything else to say here.

            e. It’s the main part of my argument. Yes, back when I set it up it was difficult and frustrating and took about a week to get right, but I did it as there was no alternative and my imagination was piqued with the “wouldn’t it be cool if I could…” idea. You’re arguing I should upheave this well-oiled machine so I can have warm fuzzies about paying for stuff – I really don’t care about how WB or HBO or whoever are doing, so it isn’t enough justification for me. If I was starting out from scratch and didn’t know anything I’ve learnt in the past 10 – 15 years then iTunes etc is obviously a more attractive alternative, which is why I think piracy will become less of a problem in the future because there’s now established legal services that don’t entirely suck (but they aren’t good enough at this point to turn someone *already established* away from their current practices).

            f. You could say that stripping DRM and using fraudulent addresses to get the content you want is still breaking some law somewhere. And I don’t care if it was Apple or content providers who put the restrictions on the product – the end result is I am still stuck with pointless restrictions to (in my opinion) unjustifiably maximise someone’s revenue stream. On a semi-related note: I bought my PS3 when on holidays in LA back in 2009 as it was $300 cheaper than getting it here. Bought War Inc on Bluray last week. Put it in the PS3, get error message that it is Region B and the PS3 is Region A (I’d say from experience that around 70% of Bluray movies are region-free, but it turns out this one isn’t), so now I’ve got a coaster that I can’t return as the box has already been opened and it technically isn’t defective. If things like this still happen when I do what I see as “morally right” then it’s no wonder I am reluctant to bother with legal channels.

            Hulu and Netflix are two services that don’t exist in Australia. Sure, I could shell out for a VPN, use a fake address, pay money and then wonder when my service is going vanish because they’ve decided to crack down on fraudulent accounts… or I can keep using my completely hassle-free existing setup.

            That’s not to say that I won’t be sussing them out if they ever do launch here – I’m pretty sure that if they do appear at a decent price and with most of the current stuff I want, along with the device availability they’re known for then I’ll probably eventually move to that (I remember reading a few years back that Netflix was responsible for more internet traffic in America than BitTorrent was). I was interested in Quickflix’s streaming stuff until it became apparent that it had virtually nothing and was in SD. Honestly, I think if they just dropped the region locks on Netflix/Hulu and charged the same price everywhere then I think you’d see global piracy plummet pretty massively (although then we have the problem of download caps, which could be gotten around if ISPs do peering arrangements).

            Anyway all this typing is taking me away from valuable (legally obtained, albeit from overseas) Bioshock-playing time. I haven’t been trying to justify my actions from a moral standpoint, just explaining why I do what I do (self-righteous pirates irritate me no end as well, and this is the first time I’ve ever written about this stuff in a public forum). Have a good night. :)

          • Your arguments regarding iTunes are completely void, as by your own admission you have no experience with the software or service in the last 6 years, and you had no idea how the charging process works for accounts with a credit card attached.

            The rest is typical complaints about DRM, which are completely valid (it annoys me too) but absolutely not unique to Apple or iTunes. There are no services which allow purchase of TV/Movie content without using DRM of some kind.

            At this point, your complaints just make it seem as if you’ll never be satisfied, no matter how far the media companies move to placate you into paying for a product you enjoy consuming.

      • This is all well and good, but the fact remains that the product they offer for sale isn’t as good as the product you can get for free. Sure, I could put iTunes on my PC, the absolute dog that it is, and I could completely re-arrange my system for the privilege of paying for their DRM-ridden crap. Or I could leave my computer in the study, hooked up to my PS3 via my LAN and stream it from there in full HD and not modify my system to suit Apple.

        The fact of the matter is that the TV companies haven’t yet solved the problem of digital distribution. Signing it over to Apple on exclusive contracts and filling it with proprietary DRM isn’t it. If you want to see how to do it, look at Louis CK’s recent comedy special he released. A fair price, DRM free, simple download in either SD or HD formats. He made an absolute packet and on torrent and usenet sites people were actively discouraging piracy of it. And he made a packet, just like Joe Rogan did when he did a similar thing.

        If HBO sold season passes to a private tracker containing HD quality DRM-free video files of their shows people would come in droves. Sure, they would end up on pirate trackers, but they will anyway. And they don’t have to share a big cut with Apple.

        • I think the point here is that the product offered for sale has recently become good enough for those who have previously been pirating it for technical reasons to take another look at the legal option again.

          Of course it’s never going to be as good as what’s offered illegally. Those of a technical bent will always find another reason why the pirated version is somehow technically better. As someone who’s spent a great deal of time angsting over how to best convert my own DVD collection into digital files for long-term storage on my media centre, I am very familiar with the debate on how precisely a video file should be encoded in any given year.

          The fact is that the iTunes model need for Australians to pirate Game of Thrones; the legal version is good enough, quick enough, cheap enough, and available on a very mass-market platform; perhaps the biggest mass-market platform of this nature.

          • For me it boils down to this.

            WHEN the legitimate option matches or exceeds the quality, timeliness, convenience and flexibility of that which can be had illegitimately, with the only downside being the need to pay, then and only then do I think there will be significant change.

          • If you look at what most people are saying the problem is, its with the fact that your locked to iTunes.

            I have no issues with the price (in fact I think the price on iTunes is great), quality or timeliness anymore, but the fact that I’m expected to be locked in to either ITunes or foxtel to watch one show is crazy.

            What I want is a cheap (tick) timely (tick) simple (tick) option that allows me to watch shows/movies on my current setup (and there is the missing link) If I have to change my set up and/or buy more hardware to match my current setup (that I have already payed a decent amount of cash for) the cheap item goes out the window making it unaffordable to buy the show.

            We are very close to having a situation where there is no reason to pirate. The only thing left is to get rid of the intrusive DRM, just like the music industry has already done, that stops me watching my content how I want to watch it. Once this is done you can truly write a piece that condemns the pirates saying that the industry is doing the right thing by them

          • So it’s only available on iTunes or Foxtel in Australia, right?

            I tried googling for other outlets that might have it, but got swamped with articles about piracy :/

  6. John Birmingham needs to get out more, he and others seem more concerned about pirating of GoT than the people who make it.

    “I probably shouldn’t be saying this, but it is a compliment of sorts,”
    “The demand is there. And it certainly didn’t negatively impact the DVD sales. [Piracy is] something that comes along with having a wildly successful show on a subscription network.” – HBO programming president Michael Lombardo

  7. *sigh*
    Last time I checked I still had to wait a few hours to receive my martini while a few people across the room got theirs as soon as they ordered it.
    Yes, it is a lot faster than before, and given it’s on AU iTunes within a day, at least we have a decent online option.
    But still, he misses the point.

  8. There are good reasons why I waited till Spotify to arrive instead of settling for iTunes. The same applies here: I am waiting for a Netflix equicalent to arrive.

  9. Aussie pirating of content has had its first victory with GoT we actually can get content now last year it was 2-3 weeks this year it is a day if people did not torrent it last year we would still be at 3 weeks it would be nice to be able to watch it immediately after screening on foxtel at 1620 or so not pushed into 230 the next day.
    At the moment the market is foxtel and foxtel and other companies who get that content days or weeks later imagine if Quickflix had GoT when it aired in the US they would get a million subscribers in a heartbeat and it would kick start streaming services in this country and force foxtel to change and adapt rather than its current monopoly stance which is buy everything and deprive viewer of content so they have to pay through the nose.

    What we need in this country is competition HBO should set a price and any company that wants it should be able to pay and on sell to their consumers this price should be regulated by the ACCC and should be fair and reasonable for all.

    • I wouldn’t have canceled my Quickflix service is that was the case. Only thing that was on there was old content.

  10. Has anyone got the number from itunes of people who actually paid for it?
    But it is amusing how many keystrokes have been created by “estimated figures” from one website!

    All the huffing & puffing, from the bloggers (yes including your good self Renai) about ripping off those poor people at HBO,etc.

    It appears none of these bloggers have read the article & subsequent articles on Torrentfreak.
    According to HBO programming president Michael Lombardo “not only is the huge piracy a compliment, but the phenomenon hasn’t hurt DVD sales at all.”

    so grab a ladder boys, get off your high horse and take a cold bath.
    Maybe even check some facts (rather then re-sprout guestoments from one website) before getting angry.

    It’s been awhile since I’ve used Torrents, but IIRC, you can be (& usual are) connected to multiple trackers. Wouldn’t that mean leechers & seeders are counted multiple times if they are connected to multiple trackers?

  11. Mr Birmingham needs to check his sums – as you said, it’s the most popular show in the world. If they can’t make the economics of production work in that scenario they aren’t fit to run a business.

    But the fact is it is successful and it does make the studio a truckload of profit. To address your question NK, GoT and Downton Abbey are two of the most expensive TV shows ever made. In fact, TV attracts bigger budgets today than ever before and guess what? It’s a highly profitable and successful model. Don’t worry, HBO and Showtime won’t be cutting back on big budget TV any time soon; in fact they’ll probably be spending even more.

  12. Ahhh, the comments are filling with piracy apologists again. What else is new. At least when piracy started people knew they were ripping someone off. Now it’s so entrenched and the younger generation has such a high sense of entitlement it seems impossible for them to see any error in what they do.
    Let’s hope they get involved as a content producer and then see what they feel like when everyone watches their content but they can’t pay the bills.

  13. If you remove price from the equation, the pirated product is still of higher quality.

    When the industry wants to sell to me at a cost the same product which can be torrented, I will throw my money at them harder than they have ever seen. Until then I’ll continue to purchase the series DVDs and BlueRays for family and friends.

  14. At $33.99 for a season in HD that you can download from itunes at any time after purchase on any PC/notebook/ipad (well, up to a stupid device limit but that’s a different story) and connect to a TV? How is that not fair or reasonable?

    Ignore the fact it’s a big studio, what about if it was something produced locally by a friend of yours. Say it’s a great show and he thinks it’s worth $20 a season. Would you still pirate it and do your arguments for doing so still stack up? Probably not.

    • I was about to make a complaint that iTunes only offers 720p

      But there’s a really obscure option in the iTunes interface that lets you set it to 1080p.

      I am actually going to buy Season 1-3 of GoT on iTunes now, IF I can play it in windows media center.

      And there I was moments away from pulling up my Torrent client in 720p Rage.

      • It’s hardly an ‘obscure setting’ when it’s on the main tab for store purchases in the iTunes preferences.

        • It is obscure because it is in the options, rather than on the show download.
          It is obscure because it wasn’t immediately obvious to me why it was only downloading 720p.
          It is obscure because I have seen several comments down the page complaining that Game of Thrones is only available on iTunes in 720p.

          Not discovered or known about; uncertain.

          To me; it was obscure.

          It wasn’t “Obscured” by apple; but it was an option I would describe as obscure.

          On another topic;
          It complains that my corei7 with 5800 amd graphics “might not be able to play back 1080p video”. le sigh.

    • Hi Liam.

      Look at it from another way. Let’s say you are paying around $3.50 per episode for whatever shows are on offer. Let’s say you are someone who likes to watch TV, and who watches 2 or even 3 shows per evening.

      That comes out at $210 – $315 per month.

      Does this still seem reasonable?

      A lot of people are looking at this argument and refusing to put anything into context. Just taking one single aspect, ignoring the rest then making emotive, bleating rants.

      One aspect that is continually ignored is what people’s actual viewing habits, patterns etc are. For those who just want to watch the occasional premium television series, then the price of getting GoT via itunes might be fine. For people who have television as a big part of their life? Not so much.

  15. I’m with you and Birmo, Renai – there’s little excuse now to pirate GoT or any other popular show. One way or another, the economics of legally obtaining what you want to watch add up to affordable. Several season passes on iTunes, a Foxtel subscription, or the more grey VPN and Hulu/Netflix combination, all add up to something most can afford.

    I certainly understand, and have been a part of, the “must have it ASAP after screening” crowd. And when delays here were six months or more in a lot of cases (or even several weeks), I could see the justification. Now, given the delay is hours or a few days (and probably mostly made up of us being at work and busy with life), there’s no reason not to pony up.

    I won’t go into the matter of pricing by the rights holders for things like iTunes passes. They’re almost certainly too high, as are the costs of pay TV and the dollar-grab that represents their model. That’s an issue that needs resolution beyond this particular discussion, and the current parliamentary hearings will likely make some headway there, particularly with iTunes.

    Nor will I go into the unquestionably broken business models of the studios and distributors. They are broken. There’s no question there. The 21st Century awaits their realisation that concurrent global release and pricing across platforms and DRM-free is the way of the future.

    The belligerence I saw yesterday from your commenters refusing to countenance legal ways because they don’t like iTunes, or their particular flavor of Linux doesn’t run Wine well was interesting. They make no friends and aren’t convincing in their arguments.

  16. How about this: I’ll pay for it on iTunes using my computer then go ahead and download off torrent as well because I prefer to have the file on my NAS and not run iTunes as well as being able to move it indefinitely.

    Sound good, Renai?

    • Not good enough, you must do it EXACTLY as the media companies tell you to do it.

      Go to jail,
      Do not pass Go,,
      Do not collect $200

    • Sadly, while I agree that that’s morally acceptable, you’re still breaking the law. You’re also breaking the law if you (say) subscribe to Foxtel and missed recording a show because you didn’t realise it was on yesterday. Morally, I think it’s OK to then torrent that ep, since you’ve already paid Foxtel for the right to watch it (who then pays the content licence holders, who then pay the content producers). But legally? Absolutely not acceptable.

      There are people who are rabid on both sides of the issue. There are some people who would never dream of torrenting content illegally (and are quite holier-than-thou about it), and some people who will never pay for content even if all their technical objections were negated and content made available for much cheaper rates than it is currently (and are quite brazen about it).

      But most people are somewhere in the middle on a sliding scale that varies with content desirability (to them personally), cost per episode/season/movie, ease of acquisition (including regional availability), and media portability. If the content licence holders focused far more on this sector than the (much smaller percentage) that will never, ever pay for content, the issue would solve itself.

      Content licence holders actually know that the future is globally-synchronous release of low-cost content without restrictions on portability. But they’re aggressively fighting a rearguard action to preserve the very lucrative revenue streams from their existing business model (including nuking individual consumers from orbit for torrenting a handful of songs or videos while largely ignoring taking action against for-profit large-scale pirates because ‘too hard’). However, the *second* that the new business models become more profitable for them than continuing to fight it while maintaining their existing distribution channels and agreements, they’ll stop fighting. But they have no intention of doing it until they’ve milked every last cent out of every consumer that they possibly can.

      The sad thing is that I suspect they would make more money than either approach currently gives them if they would drop the prices dramatically right now, and introduce the other measures that they eventually will be forced to introduce. If nothing else, it would allow them to claim the moral high ground for the first time ever, undercut the arguments of those who continue to torrent, and finally start to be seen by their current and potential customers as not evil.

      /end rant :-)

    • I have absolutely no problem with that approach from a moral standpoint, and legally it may be against the law but nobody will ever be prosecuted for it. Go nuts.

      • …except that under the existing laws people can and have been prosecuted for it. I doubt your benediction would carry much weight with a judge… ;-)

  17. One thing I’ve noticed is that some videos on iTunes are HDCP protected. I went to buy Les Miserables and I saw that the HD version can only be played if you have a HDCP protected setup otherwise it defaults to SD settings.

    • The majority of people now own a display with at least one HDMI input, if not 3 or 4 (or in my case, an A\V Receiver with 4 HDMI inputs that are all in use). All HDMI interfaces are HDCP certified.

      Unless you use an older computer monitor or projector with only DVI (or analogue component or VGA?) surely you have a TV with an HDMI input?

        • I don’t have that option available to me. My monitors are DVI-D and VGA input only and the only TV capable of HDMI is in the lounge, so it’s not REALLY practical to drag my entire computer out there to watch one movie.

          Might get it on BD, or DVD. Got a BD Player in the lounge…

          • My monitor must be an old one then, as the nvidia control panel isn’t reporting it as HDCP compliant.

            Ah well.

  18. If you’re on an average family income of 80k or have very little personal income (uni, school, unemployed etc) then iTunes is a luxury purchase. There are a lot of people in this bracket.

    Tim Oreilly of the computer book publishing company (whose books have always been drm free) had it right that pirating is progressive taxation on goods somewhere below shoplifting in the scheme of things, and obscurity is worse than piracy.

    There’s still a way to go before content is available through enough legitimate sources to make a dent in piracy, but even then it only really matters if making content is unprofitable which clearly it’s not for the top tier studios.

    • “If you’re on an average family income of 80k or have very little personal income (uni, school, unemployed etc) then iTunes is a luxury purchase. There are a lot of people in this bracket.”

      saying iTunes is a luxury is not an excuse to pirate. That’s like saying I’d like a BMW, but can’t afford it, so BMW should give me one for the price of a Hyundai

        • I hate the false equivalency in those piracy warnings on DVDs.

          No, I wouldn’t steal a car. But if I could ~replicate~ a car (for cost of materials and no additional cost to the car manufacturer), and leave the original car owner still in possession of their own car…? That’s quite a different equation.^

          Content licence owners do themselves no ‘mind-share’ favours when they equate copyright infringement with grand theft auto.

          ^ An equation that still ignores the issue of the long-term viability of car manufacturers, of course.

  19. I’ve commented on this before in numerous forums and the reality is that while there are no quality delivery mechanisms that are reasonably priced to get this content to us faster than pirates can, how can one complain?

    Get it to us fast (simultaneously or forget it) and don’t even think about an Australia Tax and then the consumers mindset will change. Studios seem to conveniently forget this and then cry poor. They have to make the changes first. Then, and only then, can they legitimately complain.

    To the Australian consumer, John Birmingham has no credibility on this subject.

    • Actually; they *can* get it to us faster than the pirates.

      The pirates have to either: A) Stream it. (capacity limits would relegate this to extremely low quality – or you’d need one pirate producer for each pirate consumer)

      B) watch the whole thing; and then release the encoded or uncompressed file.

      Uncompressed would take a LONG time to download, but the encoding process would also take a while.

      So the pirates always have transmission + encoding (plus a small distribution time) release limitation.

      TV Show producers have all the time in the world to encode, and can release the encoded version at their leisure.

      To beat the pirates; they could release it immediately as the show goes to air; immediately after the show has aired; or perhaps 1 hour after the show has aired. In the case of the 1 hour delay; they may be releasing it at the same time as a relatively low quality – unchecked pirate copy is released.

      Shrug. they don’t do this for some reason. (also; why does foxtel play it several hours after the US? why can’t they play it at the same time?.)

      • My guess is simply because if they showed it at exactly the same time as the U.S, that would mean Game of Thrones would be on early afternoon on Foxtel. Not exactly a prime time position ;-)

        Which makes me wonder if even all US residents get to see it at the same time? Surely HBO would differ its broadcast times (like our TV stations do in Perth) so that it premieres at 8:30pm (or whatever it is) in each state?

  20. Foxtel is preventing any other provider including Itunes from distributing the HD content of game of thrones

    You basically stuck with the SD version of content

  21. I’m happy to admit I torrented the first two seasons and I’m happy to admit that I also bought the blueray box set of those seasons so what does that make me?

      • Yes to both. it’s a damn fine series and I’m happy to pay but I don’t see why I should be locked into a specific vendors distribution platform. I’m fully aware that GoT needs to make a quid or they wont bother making more eps.

        I’m the same with music, I’ll discover music via radio or uboob or spotify (free) and if something goes on high rotation I’ll end up buying the CD and ripping it. Why? Because then I can rip it to flak format and still have the convenience of portability. This is old fashioned I know but at least its very clear that its MY content and I’ll adapt it to suit my viewing/listening needs.

        If there’s people out there who genuinely can’t afford their content and choose to pirate then good on them. Let’s face it, any content you buy already has a pirate surcharge built into the price.

  22. Two points:
    1. I have purchased Season 1 of GoT via iTunes, and downloaded the HD version (and am patiently waiting for my wife to read the first book so we can watch it together … *twiddles thumbs*) – I have no issue with purchasing legitimately.
    2. To me the issue still seems less one of price than of convenience, and a disdain still shown by some (e.g. some of the commenters above :) ) for the contemptuous way most media distributors (not so much the producers) treat consumers in a digital age, by applying pre-digital business models and restrictions. I seriously believe that when media distributors follow the sort of examples set by Radiohead and The Dimes, there will be considerably less piracy (never none – there will always be some) – not because it will be free (as in free beer), but because it will be easy, and free as in readily available.

  23. IP is one of those interesting areas that is hard to work out morally. One the one hand, I think that someone that creates something really deserves to be paid for it. On the other, I just can’t see myself throwing people into prison for it.

    • That’s a bit of a strawman. No one is suggesting anyone get thrown into prison for copyright violation. , unless the person is manufacturing and selling large quantities. Just the ability to do anything would be a start. The more the ISPs hide them, the more expensive it is to do anything, and the bigger the fine will be, because it’s so hard and costs so much to just catch one person. If it was handled more like any other minor law infringement, the fines could be equally small, but it’s not.

      • The ISPs ‘hide’ their customers, because the preferred approach of the content holders is to sue the first few unfortunates into oblivion, to act as a deterrent to others (“see, if you pirate, you’ll lose your house, your car, your life savings, probably your spouse, and still have to work for 20 years to pay what you owe us”).
        What makes it worse is that the rights holders would like this to happen without all that inconvenient stuff like evidence and without having to demonstrate how that *one* person torrenting a few TV shows costs them $millions.

  24. I didn’t know it was on Aussie iTunes store either, and as first commenter said ‘old habits die hard’… I didn’t even look, just whined in frustration because I don’t have Foxtel /HBO at home.

  25. I’ve been getting it from UseNet because I didnt know it was available on iTune for a sensible price, im actually thinking about getting a 2nd ATV now for my den so I can subscribe.

    That said there are a stack of other shows not available for a sensible price and within a sensible timeframe so I’ll keep DL’ing those!

  26. despite the fact that it’s now available locally cheaply and quickly

    When is season 3 episode 1 available in AU again?

  27. There are a few reasons that I wouldn’t buy Game of Thrones or almost any TV legally (nor have/would I download it)

    1) I did attempt to watch the first episode at someone else’s behest. I couldn’t get more than 20 minutes into it – it all seemed so camp. And I’ve read the first few books, as they came out, and I know GRRM, and …..There are many reasons I’d like to enjoy the series, but it didn’t work for me.

    So, shoudl I buy the first episode to see if I like it so I could buy the rest ? This seems to be a strange business model – asking me to pay for the ad. And no, traliers aren’t adequate – we all know that in films/tv, the most intersting/suspenseful points are extracted condensed and squashed into 30 seconds, eaving the balance of the show as dull.

    2) You may scoff at the difficulty of iTunes, but I *hate* the thing, so much so I won’t use it. Yes it means my choices are limited – nut then I buy more direct from musiic artists etc than I do from iTunes. And with iTunes, I’m locked into a few systems, not the 6 I regularly use (OK I’m excessive in this), the upstairs PC, the downstairs PC, 2x notebooks, 2x tablets, all of which have differnt purposes. This is the underlying problem with the DRM aspect – it makes the legitimate consumer pay the price for piracy. Thinnk non-skippable piracy messages and ‘forthcoming features’ on DVD’s, pre-viewing ads on Youtube/TV sites etc.

    3) It makes an implicit assumption that culture is a salable asset in perpetuity, not something that should become part of the commons over time. You may argue this is a freetard mindset, but I believe that copyright should serve society, not become a means of extracting value.

    4) The comparison with Steam is a good one – and it highlights the above points. Game producers are used to producing playable demos – their quality may vary, but they usually give a good feel for gameplay at least, and seldom reveal all the major plot points. And they’re almost always free. I’m a lot more likely to buy a game have played or seen a demo. Steam’s DRM is fairly friendly – it lets me activate multiple computers, and download games onto any of them. No ‘oops my hard disk died’ lock-out. On Steam, the price of older games DROPS fairly quickly, and there are real discounts at regular periods – I can pick up something on impulse for under $10, and it will have been a major title in it’s day. The TV/movie distribution chains don’t see that as viable – and the up-front investments for major games and movies/tv are comparable, so it’s not a cost issue. In fact, given support costs, games probably should be higher relatively.

    So no, it’s not just about a freetard metality, there are real practical and philosophical reasons for avoiding the legitimate distribution channels.

      • Music on iTunes doesn’t come with DRM.

        TV Shows and Movies on iTunes come with DRM, but there are no ‘unskippable intros’ or other crap normally associated with DVD or BluRay copies.

      • He wrote a well thought out and argued post, you replied with a pithy insult and no substance.

        You lose.

        • It’s hard to call it ‘well thought out’ when it contains basic factual errors about how iTunes works.

          • No it isn’t.

            You might not agree that it is accurate. But he obviously has put thought into it. Much, much more than the simple-minded response that he recieved.

            It is, in contrast, sloppy thinking to scan for a single thing you disagree with in a lengthy post – then dismiss the entire content of that post.

            Facts and critical thinking skills need to go together. A lot of posts on both sides of the argument here are driven by emotion, sanctimoniousness and extremely poor thinking. Naturally that does nothing to address any underlying problems. But I guess it makes some losers feel good about themselves.

          • A lot of the ‘I refuse to use iTunes’ arguments are based on an experience with the product from years ago, misconceptions about the DRM used and what types of media it applies to, misconceptions about the profit margin Apple makes on media sales, or other basic falsehoods which take mere seconds to correct on Google.

            Others basically boil down to ‘I refuse to give Apple money’, which is a particularly pathetic justification for piracy.

            I’m not a saint in this area and have download plenty of torrents, but I don’t attempt to rationalise my behaviour as taking the moral high ground.

          • I don’t think it is as simple as ‘taking seconds on google’.

            Look at the Steam example. It was widely disparaged when it came out too. It was loathed. It had all of the various accusations levelled against it about being slow, unreliable etc etc. Now the consensus is that it is getting things right.

            So why does itunes still attract so much distaste? Steam won people over, itunes hasn’t. What are the differences? What is the cause of this failure? Is it just a matter of time? Is it distaste for apple? Is it the differences in content being delivered? Why have people learned to love Steam where they loathe itunes?

            Peronsally I dislike Origin – I actually hate it with a passion. Not because the games are bad, not because of any distaste for any company, but because I find it a dreadful service. Yet my Steam account is filled with hundreds of paid-for games.

            Get the service right, and people will happily partake. I think the evidence so far is that itunes is getting it wrong. Just as there are people who love Origin who try to tell me I am wrong for disliking it there will be plenty of people who like itunes. But that doesn’t make people wrong for disliking it.

          • Steam was widely despised when it was first required for Half-Life 2 because it was slow and unreliable. It is now widely loved because it is no longer slow and unreliable, and is also convenient and affordable.

            iTunes is the same, though it’s not as affordable as Steam (lack of specials, etc). I hated iTunes for many years, and used to pirate all of my music because there were few convenient legal options. Now iTunes is far more convenient than piracy (I can trivially buy a song on my phone and have it available on all of my devices) and affordable.

            There is no justification for your claim that “Steam won people over, itunes hasn’t” – iTunes has many millions more users than Steam does. The problem is likely that you’re only receiving comments from fellow gamers, and not the far larger group of non-nerds who use and love iTunes.

          • I agree. I was definitely in the “iTunes sucks” camp a few years ago. And on Windows that was very true for a lot of people. It used to be a bloated mess, that required way too many system resources to run smoothly. However since iTunes 11 its been heavily optimised, plus computers have a got a lot faster over the last few years.

            I’ve always built my own PCs, and constantly tweak them for maximum performance like any other geek, but iTunes plus its backgrounded processes” Bonjour” and “Apple mobile device” take up such a tiny amount of ram that they barely register. Perhaps if people are still working with 2GB of total ram it could occasionally give people issues, but on an 8GB machine I often leave iTunes open syncing content to my iPad in the background, while I play CPU intensive games, with no noticeable drop in frame rate. This is an iTunes library with over 100GB of apps, and 50GB of music too, so its got a lot to index, but it never pauses for more than a few seconds when opening.

            I admittedly don’t use it for video much though, as while it works fine for Apple compatible content, it doesn’t provide half the features, or a satisfactory ‘big screen UI’, to access my videos on a 50″ plasma, and it pales in comparison to the features, compatibility and flexibility of Plex and XBMC. Both of which are installed on Apple’s own ATV2 thanks to jailbreaking :)

        • It’s just another bunch of excuses. “I know I could pay for it but..”. The excuses never end.

          • They do. I have started buying as it started getting easier to buy.

            Which means your overly broad generalisation is about as useful as a poke in the eye with a pointy stick. (ie it’s not useful; and no one will thank you for your efforts)

          • What or who are you referring to? I’m seriously confused. I don’t see any excuses for anything in my post. Just my opinion about the pros and cons of iTunes in general (which isn’t half as bad as people make it our to be) and a comparison to my media player of choice; Plex, which offers a vast array of customisable features (and a suitable UI for a 50″ plasma) that iTunes doesn’t (unless using my AppleTV2 for accessing my paid content, but that only does 720p, hence I don’t use it as much). So what am I making excuses about exactly?

          • Apologies if that post wasn’t meant for me NBNAccuracy. I was using the mobile view of the site, where it doesn’t show threaded messaging clearly. Looked like you had replied directly to me.

    • Also, there are alternatives to purchasing from steam. Even when a game “requires” steam for DRM purposes, you can usually still purchase it from elsewhere.

      Steam are trying be a market you choose because they are the best. Apple are trying to be the only market in town.

      All this still stems from the publisher’s anyway. The traditional model is still dictating the way these products are provided. It is a first step, but honestly the publisher’s hearts aren’t really in it. If they were there would have been a lot more advertising the fact that GoT is available on Itunes.

    • Music on iTunes doesn’t come with DRM.

      TV Shows and Movies on iTunes come with DRM, but there are no ‘unskippable intros’ or other crap normally associated with DVD or BluRay copies.

  28. Oh look…
    Another one of my comments gets deleted because I bring up anything about Apple. Why delete my comment Renai? Explain….
    Are you getting royalties talking about apple and spruiking apple products?
    I’m sure this will get deleted again…

    • What do you expect when you ludicrously suggest Renai is biased towards Apple? I’ve never read a single sentence on this site to suggest that’s true. You are simply viewing ANY positive comments about Apple as “bias”. Typical from outright Apple haters. I’d delete your ludicrous comments too.

      • Well people have suggested reasons why they are not legally getting GoT. As most of these people have setups already.
        Yet Renai keeps on talking about Itunes, or apple TV. Why doesn’t he talk about anything else.
        That’t right, you can’t, because apple is the only thing you can legally/cheaply get GoT.

        • Is it Apple’s fault that the content distributors haven’t made their product available on Amazon or Google Play for Australian viewers?

          Is Apple in charge of Google’s negotiations? Amazon’s?

          • Are you seriously suggesting Apple has never pushed for exclusive distribution rights to anything?

    • Hey there, I’m deleting some of these comments because they’re factually incorrect and offensive. I do not receive any money from Apple for commenting positively on their products, and I’m sure they would be as horrified as I am at the suggestion.

      You don’t get to make false allegations about me on my own site. That’s a fairly basic concept. Check our comments policy for the rules of engagement.

  29. OK, this is probably banal… but I paid for the blu ray version of S1 and S2. Why? am stuck in an area which only has wireless broadband as a viable connection. Its fast (4G), but at $150 a month for 25GB (You morons, Turnbull/Jones!) of data – and I have to run a business as well, downloading free, paid, or pirated isn’t an option.
    My Gripe? Why does it take a year before the Studio releases the preceding season? Why can I not buy it, at the end of the season screening? Its like Region coding, greed of studios.

  30. I stopped pirating music as soon as a decent DRM free source became available.

    Will do the same thing when downloadable video follows suit. As it is I prefer buying DVDs so I can manage the rip quality.

    However… having read this article I decided to buy GoT3 from the iTunes Store as I want to watch it now. “Payment processing is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later”. Nope. Pirate bay it is.

  31. People keep making the comparison to between iTunes and steam, there are a reason why steam with games is more acceptable than movies with iTunes and it comes down to how content is consumed. Steam will run on any device the content can be consumed on, so steam isn’t preventing you using the content in a way you normally would without the use of steam. iTunes did work a similar way with support for making the content available where you wanted it in the early days support many other MP3 players out of the box, and has continued down this path with using DRM free music, this allows music content purchased on iTunes to be used where everywhere the content is supported despite not having direct support for the distribution system. Now with video content you have a distribution system that prevent the content being used on devices that would otherwise be able to play the content and that is the primary issue with iTunes, it cant support the content everywhere you would be able to play it if it wasn’t for iTunes.

    • “Steam will run on any device you can consume it on”

      The vast majority of Steam titles are PC only, followed by Mac, and then a small selection (so far) for Linux, so its still PC where the action is at. Where as in comparison the full catalogue of titles from iTunes will run on any PC, Mac, Apple TV, iPad and iPhone/iPod Touch. The barrier to entry is only $109 for an AppleTV. It’s not perfect being locked in to iTunes, but then its not perfect being locked into Steam either. Trying to pretend that Steam content is ubiquitous, where as iTunes isn’t as easily accessible, is simply not true for most people. The only people that can’t easily access iTunes content from their PC are Linux users, but they are used to being being able to not access popular software, and I’ve never met a Linux user that would allow iTunes on their computer even if it were compatible anyway. It runs counter to their typical philosophy of hating closed software and worshipping “open-source everything”.

      • I think you missed the part where he said “any device you CAN consume it on”
        “can” consume it on. So yes, usually that’s a PC.

        But what kind of PC?

        Your choice.

        iTunes/Apple tells you which devices you “may” consume it on, even if you realistically “can” consume it on others.

        So the difference is between being told what you “may” do and understanding what you “can” do.

        • Personally, if I could purchase and download shows through Steam, I absolutely would. Why? Because I already have an expansive library of games and use Steam anyway.

          But would I tell someone who refused to use Steam, “well too bad! You don’t get to have it!”? Of course not. But that’s what Renai and other iTunes converts, and that’s what Apple, and that’s what media companies, are telling us.

          As someone above said, Steam tries to get you to use their marketplace by being the best around, while Apple tries to get you to use their marketplace by being the only one around.

  32. Just because the glove (iTunes/Foxtel) fits you, doesn’t mean it fits others, so don’t sit on your high horse and expect them to wear it.

    The important difference between “piracy” and “theft” is that piracy is “getting” something for free, and theft is “taking” something for free. The difference between “getting” and “taking” is that the original possesser keeps what they possesses. The thing about piracy is that while it may be free for the consumer, it’s also free for the producer.

    No, the cost of production is not free, obviously. But the cost of production and distribution of that pirated unit is free. Piracy is not a loss caused by external factors, it is a loss of opportunity resulting from internal decisions.

    Piracy is, as Gabe Newell has famously said, a service problem. Piracy is not the disease – it’s the symptom. The industry itself is what’s diseased, and once they finally address those issues, (rampant) piracy will disappear.

    Piracy is “morally”, “indvidually” wrong (but of course, so is premarital sex, homosexuality… lol.), but I believe it is “socially” right, because it is the agent of change, forcing an old business model to adapt to a changing world.

    Media companies need to adapt and adopt a more open wholesale like approach, with many many many distributors (retailers) offering different services, different ways of getting the show, at different prices and payment models.
    Maybe that’s streaming. Maybe that’s rentals. Maybe that’s DVDs/BDs. Maybe that’s on pay-per-view. Maybe that’s on payTV. Maybe that’s digital downloads. Maybe you download as part of a library. Maybe you download it as individual files. Maybe it supports one platform over another. Maybe it supports all platforms. Maybe it’s ad-supported. Maybe it’s paid per episode, per season. Maybe it’s on an access pass. Maybe it’s on a subscription. Maybe you get the first episode for free and pay for the rest of the season.
    The different retailers will try and guess that, and the consumers will decide what’s best for them with their own wallets. Hell, the chances are, consumers will pay more than once.

    Basically, media companies should move away from keeping their shows exclusive, and instead make them inclusive.

    • @Harimau: Perhaps you could make your point about the case for piracy without making value judgements about people who are gay (or people who engage in premarital sex, for that matter) on a tech site…? Thanks.

      • I was just saying that moral standards change, and saying that piracy is, say, unethical, doesn’t really hold that much weight, does it?

        • I thought the “… lol.” got the mockery of socially-accepted moral standards across, but apparently not.

  33. OK … If I was to handcuff myself to iTunes and purchase, for example, season 3 of GoT, how would I watch it on my LG smart tv after downloading it to a desktop Windows PC because I’m certainly not going to spend the money to watch it on a computer monitor?

  34. Perhaps content producers should look at using a platform such as Steam to distribute their products.

    Really, Steam is pretty much Always On DRM (Yes, I know it does have an offline mode too) and it’s account wide DRM, not Device restricted DRM. So, any purchase you make via the Steam Video platform automatically allows you to view the content on any device you want. You could then copy the video to your iPad and watch it on the go. If you’ve only got a Wifi capable iPad, then just tether a smartphone or a public wifi spot to it and log into the Steam Platform there, select Offline Viewing (Which is valid for 2 or 3 shows before asking for reauthorisation to prevent someone from hijacking it) and then watch it from there.

    It could even be that premium ISP’s such as Internode could add the Video side of Steam to the Unmetered list so that people can download the episodes without worrying about quota.

    What about TV’s you ask? Well, how about developing a Steam TV app that allows you to play the video right from your TV. Once again, it’s a log-in once to authorise the device and then it’ll go from there, displaying a list of all the content you’ve purchased, including pre-purchased episodes, and a simple store to allow you to purchase content anywhere.

    Backing up? No problem. Steam already has that built into the game client, where it creates a custom series of files that steam can use to restore a game, so why not do the same thing to Video.

    Now for the big one. You’re around at your grandparents place, and you know they’d LOVE to watch a particular show, so you purchase it, and plan on taking it around on your tablet of choice (Wifi only) and UH OH! No Internet. Hmm… Why not burn it to DVD? Well, as part of the Steam Video client, you have the option to purchase the ability to burn to DVD, straight from the client. I’d say that $1 per copy (Or $100 for unlimited) per episode would be fair. Then, you burn the video to DVD, CSS and all, and then a verification check is done, allowing you to play the DVD in your computer to make sure it’s burnt correctly. After playback, it presents a yes/no dialogue box asking if the DVD works properly. If you select no, it will allow you to burn ONE more copy. Select no again, it’ll ask for another payment.

    Now, I know this isn’t perfect, but Steam is more multi platform than iTunes, and given it’s account wide DRM, I feel it’s more palatable than iTunes, which is really locked to Apple hardware only (As well as Windows.) I also don’t think it’ll stop the “I don’t care, I WANT to pirate because I can) crowd, but it WILL give a legal, cheap and convenient option to the “Well, it’s sort of a toss up now… Can I afford to wait a week for the legal version, or pirate now…) who are undecided. If the prices of the content were fair (And the price asked for GoT on iTunes is fair, I believe) and the content is available ASAP (As it reportedly is with GoT) then people will move to it.

    I included the DVD burning option to allow for greater flexibility, especially if people plan on going somewhere where there isn’t an internet connection. Yes, it presents an avenue for IP infringement, but a concession needs to be made as not everyone has access to the internet.


  35. I find it amazing how many people here think “it’s on itunes” is a total answer to piracy. I can only think that you are a bunch of Mac/ipod owners and blithely unaware of how utterly inconvenient itunes is for normal people.

    I have a Sony phone – can I legally buy current GoT episodes to watch on it? No.

    What about my Samsung tablet? No.

    My PS3? No.

    My DVD/blu ray player? No (give it 12 months, maybe, then the blu ray will be out for $70).

    My Linux media centre, which is the main way I consume media? No.

    So the one thing I could, in theory, get it on is my Windows PC. But I would have to install itunes on it, which is an appallingly bad piece of software on PC – it is hundreds of megabytes (for a media player ffs, it should be 5 megs), installs multiple unwanted items (services for running ipods even if you have no ipod; Quicktime; various things that silently run at startup whether you want them to or not), it arrogantly ignores the GUI conventions that every other Windows program uses, and seizes control of all of your media file associations, regardless of what you currently have configured. Then I would get to tie my credit card to an account with Apple, a company I have no desire to have anything to do with. I can’t cancel my account afterwards because I would then lose access to the media I have paid for. Then I could pay for the show at Australia’s region locked prices. Then I could sit and watch it on my computer, rather than on my HD TV, and I could never transfer it to any of my other devices.

    TL:DR – Many of you are totally missing the point. If you want to stop copyright infringement (which is NOT theft, no matter how many idiots repeat this incorrect assertion), you must offer the same flexibility and convenience as piracy does. Not almost the same – THE SAME.

    So by all means, charge $30 for the season. But then let people download DRM free .mp4s or .avis of the show in full HD at their convenience, without making them beholden to a third party (Apple) and without any other restrictions. Make this available the second the show airs in the US. Then, and only then, are you offering a comparable product to the ‘product’ offered by piracy, and therefore making it possible for people to do the “right” thing while still getting what they want.

    In the end this is a commercial market. People want what they want, and content producers don’t get to control what people want. Either provide it to them, or STFU when they go out and get it for themselves.

    And if you are a bleating Mac user who thinks itunes is “fine”, please, go away. Ipads/phones/Macs are the minority, and most people don’t use, or want to use, Apple stuff. Until you’ve tried to use itunes-based media with other computers/phones/tablets, your views really have no weight.

    • Just like it’s amazing to me that a lot of people think that because the content companies haven’t 100% targeted their product offering precisely to the way that people would like it, that that represents justification for infringing copyright.

      A lot of people aren’t acknowledging that there’s a middle ground here, and that Apple and HBO have tried to reach closer to the needs of users by fast-tracking GoT onto the Australian iTunes store at this level of pricing.

      I’m not judging those who pirate GoT for doing so. But what I will say is that the technical justifications for doing so are a lot weaker now than they used to be. It’s not the act that I judge; but the way that people justify it.

      • Technically Renai you are indeed correct, at last Australians with AppleTV (vastly inferior to my current telly) or Foxtel (minimum price of $639 with the “essentials” pack) can enjoy GoT in their living room with their friends.

        Practically though…

        Guess I’ll be waiting for the blu-ray again.

          • “Or a Mac, Windows PC, iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch which they can connect to their TV.”

            “Windows PC” only if you use another Apple product, itunes.

            So basically HBO have made it available to Apple’s customers, Foxtel’s customers, and not the majority of people who are in neither category.

          • I have no need to prove myself to you. I currently pay money for media which respects my rights as a consumer. I don’t pay for media which doesn’t. If HBO would like some of my money, they can have it the moment they offer me the product I want.

            It’s their problem, not consumers’ problem.

          • Patrick,

            there are a huge number of industries, perhaps most of them, where the product which is sold is not the product which consumers would ideally like to be able to buy. Often the reason they can get away with it is because they have a near-monopoly on a very useful or addictive category of product.

            Just saying that the producers of a product need to come 100% to what the consumer wants doesn’t represent the real world.


          • That may be so, but there are very few industries where that is the case even though the product consumers do want is available and could be made available to them at no additional cost to the company.

            The sole reason that we can’t get DRM-free copies of GOT on any device we please is because HBO chooses not to sell it in this way. Not because (as with 99.9% of industries) the preferred product does not exist or can’t practically be produced or sold in a given way.

      • “Just like it’s amazing to me that a lot of people think that because the content companies haven’t 100% targeted their product offering precisely to the way that people would like it, that that represents justification for infringing copyright.”

        If a company doesn’t seek to “100% target their product offering precisely to the way that people would like it” then it is failing as a company. That’s the primary objective of any competent organisation which makes money by selling things.

        These companies are in a unique situation. They have a huge market of people who would like to pay them for their product, with clear requirements for how they require the product to be packaged (as demonstrated by the way torrents are distributed). Most companies would kill for that kind of information and opportunity.

        What do these companies do? They fail (or refuse) to provide the product in the way that people want it, then they complain that people go out and get it for themselves.

        The itunes argument is stupid. How many PS3s and Xbox 360s are there out there, for example? Millions in Australia alone. These devices are perfectly capable of playing HD video and 100% of them will be in people’s living rooms hooked up to TVs. It is not possible to install itunes on these devices – therefore, HBO is deliberately refusing to sell GOT to a market of millions who are just sitting there ready to pay them money. Add to that the millions more who have TVs and DVD/blu ray players capable of playing downloaded videos.

        Tell me this – are you an Apple user? Assuming so, would your views be the same if GOT was only available on Android devices or by installing a horrible bloated piece of Microsoft software on your Mac?

        • I know that you are correct on the X-Box front at least.
          Microsoft has the greatest number of online subscribers compared to PS3 and a marketplace where all content creators can sell their media.
          If a content owner is not selling in the Microsoft marketplace they are definitely reducing their customer reach as this marketplace is available in the lounge on consoles and computers as well as their mobile phones. This marketplace has further reach than Apple has so to have a product available on the Apple marketplace but not Microsoft’s is just silly. I just checked and GoT is not on Zune(Microsoft) marketplace.

  36. You didn’t see fit to mention the reasoning that plenty of people including myself have of not wanting to give money to companies with shitty ethics and shitty reputations, Renay. Perhaps HBO should think it in their best interests to unlock their online streaming services for Australian users and tell Foxtel to get stuffed or drop the advertisements on a subscription service.

    • I watched Foxtel at a friends place a few months ago and it took me a while to realise it was Foxtel because of how many Advertisements for products that are not their own are on it now. I am surprised Foxtel subscribers don’t kick up more of a fuss about paying twice for their service through subs and ads for funeral insurance.

    • P.S: I am a massive SG1 and Atlantis fan.. so really really wanted SGU not too but it did in fact suck. GoT is not going to bomb because of downloads.. what a load.

      • SGI season 1-3 were horrible horrible TV. (perhaps you were young like I was and didn’t see it)

        Atlantis never got good.

        SGU was perhaps horriblehorrible for maybe half of its life (13 total episodes?) but quickly picked up.

        Seriously; I am a stargate fan; but my experience with stargate fans hating on universe makes me really ashamed to say I liked any part of stargate since I get put in the same basket as those that hated on SGU.

  37. If I were to pirate this or any other shows it would be because iTunes doesn’t run on my X-Box nor does it stream its content to it from my PC.
    I can’t afford to buy a PC just to sit in the lounge and Quickflicks is a really dodgy underfeatured copy of Netflix.
    I can’t wait for the day Netflix enters the Australian market or I decide I only need a Tablet or notebook for my gaming needs and I can turn my PC into a dedicated HTPC.

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