Last week the MPAA decided to begin shutting down Torrent sites which trade in TV shows. Apparently all of this downloading of TV shows is having an adverse effect on somebody…not sure who exactly. Right now the MPAA is suing the torrent sites themselves, but they've made threats about suing individual users (you know…their customers). As someone who has downloaded a lot of TV shows over time, I really don't understand this one.

I downloaded the first 8 episodes of Lost when friends started recommending it to me. Normally I would have just missed those episodes and probably knowing that I was that far behind would never have watched the show. I know that's why I never watched Alias, that's why I almost gave up on Buffy when I discovered it midway through season 4. It's why I was hesitant to try Angel, and why I've never watched Smallville.

This time I downloaded the show and enjoyed it enough to watch it when it came out (although I rarely watched it live, preferring instead to watch it after I'd PVR'ed it).

I've also downloaded several episodes of Penn and Teller's Bullsh!t, because from what I can tell nobody shows this program in Canada. It's impossible to even get the DVD's of the first two seasons here without having them imported.

The MPAA says that this is affecting international markets and DVD sales, throwing out some ridiculous unfounded number which can't be qualified of course…hey, I'm losing 8.9 billion dollars a year of HeadsDown business to Blogger according to that logic…damn, I should sue Blogger.

I just don't get it. I don't understand why you would sue your customers into compliance. I don't understand why you wouldn't figure out a way to use these tools for marketing and promotional purposes. I don't understand why everyone is so afraid of the future, and so sure that lawyers will be able to keep the wolves from the door.

What both the RIAA and the MPAA don't seem to understand is that the digital medium is the way that people will prefer to get their media in the future.

This is a world where I can get it “my way”, everyone's been telling us this for about 10 years that they want you to have everything customized. My car is customized to my needs, my house was custom built, the music that I listen to is custom made.

Our kids will eventually look at us like we're nuts when we tell them that Thursday nights were “must see TV”, and we all huddled around the TV to watch The Cosby Show, Cheers, Friends, and Sienfeld. “What do you mean?” they'll ask, “You couldn't watch them when you wanted? You had to watch them on Thursday night at a certain time? What if you had piano lessons?” They'll look at you with a mixture of horror and revulsion in their eyes. “Well Johnny…” I'll say to a child likely not even named Johnny, “Then you either missed the show, or risked being arrested for borrowing a friend's VCR tape….Oh, a VCR was a video cassette recorder, it recorded TV on a massive tape about the size of 100 of your music players, and it could only hold a maximum of 6 hours of really crappy video. It was dark times son. Dark times indeed.”.

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