Game Of Thrones Director: I'm 100% Opposed To The Piracy I Just Said Helps My Show Survive

from the getting-it dept

You know, sometimes content creators can be really confusing. Take Game Of Thrones director David Petrarca, for instance. Remember early last year when we mentioned that the show was on track to become the most pirated television show of 2012? And how the success of the show might actually be a result of piracy, rather than its cause?

Well, ChurchHatesTucker writes in to tell us that Petrarca recently opined that piracy is at least partially responsible for the success of the show, providing an avenue through which more people talk about it and comment on it within greater society.
Panel mediator Rosemary Neill noted Game of Thrones was the most pirated show of 2012 and that 10 per cent of the downloads came from Australia. But Petrarca shrugged and said the illegal downloads did not matter because such shows thrived on "cultural buzz" and capitalised on the social commentary they generated.

"That's how they survive," he told the crowd gathered at the University of Western Australia.
Yes, in addition to allowing late-comers to catch up on episodes in preparation for new seasons, piracy helps keep the show in the societal bloodstream, keeps the buzz going, and generally creates more excitement and awareness of the product as a whole. If HBO could manage to provide a more innovative method for delivering the show to those that want it, likely the boon could be even greater. Still, Petrarca noted that HBO is doing well with their subscriber base.
He said HBO alone had 26 million subscribers in the US and 60 million worldwide, which meant there was plenty of money filtering in and allowing the channel to produce high quality content despite any illegal downloading.
While this all sounds reasonable, I wouldn't want to be accused of not presenting the other side of the argument on whether or not piracy helps or hurts this sort of media. So, here to present a rebuttal to David Petrarca... is David Petrarca. He recently had a Twitter exchange with our own Glyn Moody, including these highlights.
I am 100% against illegal downloading. I said that downloading creates buzz but def am NOT in support of illegal downloads. The issue is a distribution system that gets content to viewers legally in a timely manner. People want to pay if made available.
While it should be noted that he certainly isn't being belligerent here, and he in fact notes that if a great distribution option is available fans will pay for content, it's difficult to square the first part of this statement with what he said in the article. Remember, he was specifically responding to a question about piracy (not authorized downloads) and then responded that it helped create social buzz for shows like his and "that's how they survive." But he is "NOT in support of illegal downloads?" I think I understand this to mean that he simply thinks the ideal solution is the kind of distribution platform that would drive nearly everyone away from piracy, by providing widely available, authorized downloads, and with that I'd agree. Still, in the absence of that great system, which HBO certainly doesn't offer, why staunchly state that you're 100% against piracy when you've already said it's helped you survive? I assume that Petrarca likes surviving, but perhaps I'm wrong?

Or, perhaps, the sudden attention that the original story was getting created pressure for him to walk back those statements. Glyn was not the only one that Petrarca reached out to with identical statements:
Perhaps it's possible that, like many in the entertainment industry, Petrarca recognized that infringing copies were, in fact, good for his show, but that actually saying that leads to backlash from within. We've asked Petrarca whether or not he heard from anyone at HBO regarding his original comments, and will update this post accordingly should we hear back.

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    Kelledin (profile), 28 Feb 2013 @ 10:52am

    IMO this is really a technical "legality vs. morality" argument, and whether or not a given form of civil disobedience is appropriate.

    For example, I'm against illegal downloading myself, except when it's done as civil disobedience against the current state of copyright maximalism. Even taking it as civil disobedience, I don't think it's appropriate unless it has a good chance of being effective. And it only becomes effective if someone is actually targeted, takes responsibility for his/her actions, and steps up to be the suffering martyr.

    Jammie Thomas and Joel Tenenbaum came close to meeting the above criteria, except that by all appearances, they initially lied about their culpability. I still strongly disagree with the onerous penalties levied against them, but I can't condone their initial conduct even for the sake of civil disobedience.

    Matthew Inman's response to this specific situation, however, was a perfect expression of civil disobedience. He admitted to what he did and described exactly why he did it, as in "this is what is broken about the existing system." I'd like to think he would have stuck to his guns if he'd been targeted with a lawsuit.

    I suspect Petrarca simply doesn't have any room on his moral compass for civil disobedience (and that's a failing on his part). Hence the apparent dissonance in his comments.

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