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Beating BitTorrent

Reuters is shocked -- shocked! -- to discover that people are downloading TV shows via BitTorrent. More specifically, people in the UK are using BitTorrent to watch American shows that might not make it across the pond for months after they air in the U.S.

The amusing thing about the Reuters story is that nobody seems to want to discuss the one, simple way to combat Internet piracy of this sort: air the damned shows the same week everywhere. The movie industry has changed its film roll-out strategy dramatically, in a response to widspread piracy of movies that hadn't yet been released in foreign markets.

Would it really have killed Channel Five in the U.K. to start broadcasting Joey with less than a five-month delay? (It premiered last week in the U.K.) And why won't Lost be seen in the UK until later this year?

On the flip side, U.S. fans downloaded episodes of Coupling and Battlestar Galactica and Stargate that were aired first in the UK. And in my earlier days, I watched several episodes of Babylon 5 and Doctor Who via a chain of videotapes that had been converted and mailed from the UK, where the shows had aired first.

Would I download the new Doctor Who series via BitTorrent if it were going to air within a week or two in the U.S.? Surely not. But would I download those episodes if I knew I was going to have to wait several months to see them? Uh, that's a no-brainer.

So the answer is simple: air the damned shows in a timely fashion. See? Problem solved.


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