Cable Companies’ Behaviors Don’t Make Piracy OK

Megan McArdle of The Daily Beast writes about cable companies and tv piracy:

This argument is both ludicrous, and wrong. Ludicrous, because if piracy is actually wrong, it doesn’t get less wrong simply because you can’t have the product exactly when and where you want it at a price you wish to pay. You are not entitled to shoplift Birkin bags on the grounds that they are ludicrously overpriced, and you cannot say you had no alternative but to break into an the local ice cream parlor at 2 am because you are really craving some Rocky Road and the insensitive [jerks] refused to stay open 24/7 so that you could have your favorite sweet treat whenever you want. You are not forced into piracy because you can’t get a television show at the exact moment when you want to see it; you are choosing piracy.

I could have quoted this entire article. It’s very well written on the nose, and exactly the message I agree with. The analogy above is one I have used myself. I don’t understand how people can say that it’s different to steal TV shows and movies than it is to walk into a Walmart and take the DVDs off the shelf. Do I wish HBO and Showtime were cheaper? Of course. But I wish everything I purchase in my life was cheaper and more convenient. I wish I could get any meal delivered to my house in five minutes for $5, but because I can’t it doesn’t mean I should just go to the grocery store and steal a box of Lucky Charms.

Much like McArdle says, the proper way to represent your outrage is to just not watch. That’s what people do when they decide that a BMW is too expensive, they just don’t buy one, they don’t steal one.

The way this content is made available to people will change at some point in the next decade. I am definitely in agreement that this model can’t last, but that doesn’t mean that HBO should just give up on it now when they are making money hand over fist. And until that happens, it’s still stealing.