Curbing Content Theft by Harry Khanna

We are spoiled. Those of us who have grown up with the internet are accustomed to instant gratification of information. How many feet are in a 3 meters? Google it. How old is Justice Thomas? Ask Siri. What’s the name of the song that’s playing right now? There’s an app for that. But this expectation of instant gratification breaks down when it comes to copyrighted content, specifically television and movies. And the unwillingness of the studios, cable networks, and content providers to cater to this expectation often drives a person to steal the content when they would have willingly paid for it. This problem is particularly acute for people who use operating systems like GNU/Linux. For example, a colleague of mine is a fan of a TV show named Workaholics which airs on Comedy Central. He runs a distribution of GNU/Linux, and once asked me how he could watch old episodes for this show, and it struck me that there really is no good way.The most straightforward way would be to purchase the Comedy Central channel for your TV, but there are three major problems with this. First, in most areas, you cannot just purchase Comedy Central individually. You have to buy a bundle that include dozens or hundreds of other channels that you have no interest in. Moreover, you’re not interested in all of the shows on Comedy Central. If you just want to watch Workaholics, why do you have to purchase (and pay for) all the extra stuff? Second, young people increasingly do not own TVs, nor do they want to. They consume content on their computers which usually do not have TV tuners. Third, even if you had a TV and you were willing to pay for the extra channels, you still can’t watch old episodes of the show. And it is highly inconvenient to watch new episodes of the show as they air without purchasing a DVR since you would have to be physically present in front of your TV when the show is on. While this may have been a fact of life in the 1990s, consumer expectations have changed with technology, and it is no longer an acceptable solution.

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