3 min read

Put.io – a discussion about piracy on Hacker News

put.io is a service that lets you download and seed torrents, and also watch the downloaded movie files, in the cloud. An obvious question that such a business model raises is a matter of illegal downloads, and that spawned an interesting discussion on HN.

Whenever I read discussions about illegal torrent downloads, I immediately think of three issues.

The first one is convenience – as a Netflix and HBO Nordic customer I miss the comfort of watching great quality mp4 files so much that I… became an IPredator customer, and I download the movies/shows I already payed for simply to be able to watch them without my laptop fan spinning like crazy.1

The second is the whole issue of what’s right, and how human beings aren’t necessarily entitled to watch the latest episode of “Mad Men” whenever and however they want. I used to support this claim and I still think that the argument of “I can’t get it in any other way so I’m gonna download it illegally using bittorrent” is weak, but I find it very unpragmatic to simply forbid downloading. I’m also starting to believe that contemporary TV shows and movies are becoming a significant part of modern culture to a degree that it’s just not right to deny access to that part to people who don’t have Netflix in their countries, or can’t afford going to the cinema very often.

And that brings me to the third issue, which is especially visible in the HN discussion linked above: it’s astonishing how many people (mostly Americans I guess) don’t realize how little digital content is legally available outside the US and the UK. The “if you can afford a modern computer and a fast internet connection, you can afford paying for TV/movies” argument is probably one of the weakest arguments against internet piracy, and is in fact the crux of the whole problem. What MPAA or RIAA don’t acknowledge is that the vast majority of the world’s population simply has no means of paying for a great number of TV shows or movies, because these are unavailable in their respective countries.2 People also seem to forget that high-speed internet became very cheap to most people of the world, same as computers, but digital goods are still hardly available anywhere outside the US. It’s baffling.3

So yeah, the whole piracy discussion aside, put.io is actually an interesting service, and I wish it well, hoping it won’t be seized by the Dutch police any time soon.

  1. Yeah, both HBO Nordic and Netflix’s streaming hogs my macbook’s CPU incredibly. Both services also regularly crash my Safari.app, either due to bugs in Flash or Silverlight. Also, HBO Nordic’s iPad app is one of the worst things in the entire universe.
  2. Or available after years of delays, with terrible dubbing.
  3. Unless you’re a lawyer. Then I guess it’s no longer baffling but obvious, because the obstacles are clearly not of technical nature.

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