Legal Issues

by Mike Masnick

Is Downloading TV Shows Legal?

from the good-question... dept

Salon is running a piece on how many people are sharing and downloading TV shows using tools like BitTorrent, some going a bit further than the original broadcatching concept to create applications, like Buttress designed specifically as an RSS aggregator for BitTorrented TV shows. The article delves into one interesting issue that not too many people have discussed: is downloading a publicly broadcasted TV show illegal? As the article notes, it would be very difficult to show any kind of "harm" from such a download. Obviously, sharing premium content shows is a different issue, but what if someone already subscribes to the premium station in question? The real issue is that the TV industry suddenly has less control. There is also the fact that with the way BitTorrent works, anyone downloading a show is also automatically uploading a show -- but, again, this is a situation where the entertainment industry appears to be shooting themselves in the foot. For years, they've tried to come up with systems for TV-on-demand, and here's a way that users have figured out how to do it for them. The people downloading TV shows via BitTorrent are watching more TV, which should be good for the industry. Unfortunately, the industry still only thinks in terms of how much they control, rather than how much they can serve the needs of their viewers. It's amazing that the industry is so good at missing every opportunity that seems to come its way. Unfortunately, the industry also seems to view intellectual property law as a way of protecting business models, rather than protecting content. That they can't see a new opportunity staring them in the face speaks volumes about the sorts of "business" minds running the entertainment industry.

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  1. identicon
    Pippin, 2 Oct 2006 @ 8:28pm

    Re: Forget the ads?

    There is a home video recording act of 1992 that allows the subscriber to own a copy of anything that they have seen or have the capability to see on TV. SO VHS recording are legal. In the 80s there was a squabble over the recording as the industry, much to its dismay, thought they were going to be ripped off by this. However, people still subscribe to TV, like myself, even though they download, like myself. The industry is losing nothing by us downloading. I watch House and then standoff every tuesday and go out and download the episodes right afterwards using Azureus. Where is the loss of money in that? I also own the DVDs to house season 1 and 2 as well as hard copies on my computer which i am entitled to under the same home and video recording act. As long as we are not sharing to someone who has no subscription service then technically the television broadcast companies are not being ripped of in anyway, shape or form.

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