Encouraging Piracy, Part XLII

Queuing up a video on Hulu, I ran into this absurd notice:

Why should I be able to watch this video on my computer but not on my iPhone, or Hulu-enabled TV/Blu-Ray player, when I can watch other videos on any device? Why can I stream some shows on Netflix, while others require a physical DVD to be shipped to me? What kind of sense does any of this make to anybody? Restricting access in any way (not just to some arbitrary collection of devices) means smaller residual checks for actors, fewer royalties to the studios, fewer opportunities to display ads, and pissed off users who just want to watch a show. Everybody loses. The display device should be completely irrelevant. This is just as absurd as a book you can read in bed or on your sofa, but not on a beach chair or a commuter train. Or a CD that can only be played on players approved by the manufacturer. Nobody would do that sort of thing. Right?

In the meantime, people who download torrents get their content quickly and can watch it whenever, wherever they want, on any device they own, unencumbered by meaningless, arbitrary restrictions.

Other than the Soup Nazi, I can't think of any business that is so obdurately hostile to the people that support it financially. Doesn't anybody in the entertainment industry realize they'll keep shrinking and alienate everyone around them for as long as they make piracy the most attractive method for accessing their content?


  1. Well, some of them realize it, and some of them don't. Most just won't. "It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it."

    But the question is to what extent any individual can in the short term do better by advocating a major change. It's the same sort of problem you see in Innovator's Dilemma situations, or in societal collapses.

    It's particularly bad for the entertainment industries because for a long time they've behaved like an extractive industry, not one focused on serving customers. Doubly so for ad-funded ones like Hulu. To the broadcast television industry, you aren't the customer. You're the product that they sell to their customers. Cattlemen pay some attention to what cattle want, but not nearly as much as the cattle would want.

  2. "To the broadcast television industry, you aren't the customer. You're the product that they sell to their customers."

    That's true enough; but isn't their fiduciary duty to bring more of us (viewers) to their main customers (the advertisers)? Restricting viewership goes directly against that.