I call bullsh*t
by Jonathon Oake
[Disclosure: I work for Warner Bros and so share a parent company with HBO. In addition my company distributes HBO content in Australia]
I’ve seen this comic from The Oatmeal passed around a lot in the last couple of days:
The essence of it is that Oatmeal creator Matthew Inman was plunged into a moral quandary when he realised there was no legitimate way he could legally watch Game of Thrones (apart, that is, from paying a subscription to HBO, the show’s creators, which for some reason he didn’t fancy).
As the always-hilarious Mike Masnick from Techdirt opined, this comic demonstrated yet again that “the biggest driver of piracy is a lack of legitimate offerings”. This has become something of a refrain over the past few years when discussing copyright infringement on the internet: people ‘want to pay’, they really do, but the legal channels just aren’t there. It’s a distribution problem, not a legal problem.
Rubbish. I’m a big believer in Occam’s Razor, in that the simplest explanation is probably the correct one. The biggest driver of copyright infringement is that, if given a choice, people would prefer to get something for free. It’s the free rider problem in full effect – the same reason no-one pays tax in Greece – if you can get away with something, most people will try. It’s hardly rocket science.