Monday, March 05, 2012

Ahoy, Matey (Or Why Television Cannot Be Pirated)

 I pirated this picture!

Quick: when I say piracy, what is the first thing to come to mind?

Is it...

...a.) Johnny Depp and a scurvy ridden band of miscreants fighting magical creatures while cracking wise?

...b.) Somalian thugs attacking Mitt Romney's yacht during a pleasure cruise to the Seychelles?

...c.) A 42-year old mother of three sitting at her laptop watching Grey's Anatomy?

I'll admit up front that I am taking somewhat of a Devil's Advocate position here.  I am not hard and fast on piracy as it is defined today (which would be as "c" in case you were wondering), and I understand that simply applying 30 to 250 year old legal standards to today is not always apples to apples.  It is, however, still fruit to fruit. And while I do not believe this to be a settled issue or think that my argument is anything like the last word, I do, however, strongly believe there are instances where downloading content is legal and moral.  It is not only of no harm to rights holders in many cases, it's actually beneficial to them in the long run.  It's not all instances, nor maybe is it even most.  But it is also nothing like as cut and dried as when I hear someone say it's never okay.

While some courts have held people to be in violation of the law for downloading, very few, if any, of these rulings have been over the downloading of television content as I am about to describe it.  And these types of rulings have been varied and inconsistent in any case, with none of these recent attempts at solving this legal issue going so far as to contradict and/or outweigh the long established Supreme Court legal precedent regarding television.