Media piracy is ethical if there is no legal way to obtain content


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Although streaming offers many options, there are some shows that are simply inaccessible.

By Michael Birdsell, Reporter

Finding out a film you wanted to watch or an album you have been meaning to listen to has no legal means of viewing has always been a topic at hand when a person begins to dive deeper into any form of media. It is disappointing when you realize the movie you were trying to watch was not on the streaming service of your choice. You search the Internet to find out why the show randomly disappeared, and the article you read states that the show was taken off for tax purposes, leading you to find the show on an illegal website, as there is no legal alternative.

Recently, the company Warner Bros. Discovery, who owns HBO Max, has started to remove shows from their streaming catalog permanently, making it so consumers now have no legal way to stream what could have been their new favorite show. Some examples of the shows removed being “Generation”, “Infinity Train”, and “Vinyl”.

The only way one could watch the removed shows would be to pirate them; even the creators of the show were rightfully upset that a piece of work that they devoted years of their lives to are gone, just because a company wants to save a small amount of money on taxes. This decision makes it so that people have no choice but to resort to piracy when they want to watch their favorites. 

Of course, the change is due to a recent merger between the companies of WarnerMedia and Discovery, which led to a promotion for new CEO David Zaslav. Zaslav’s primary goal was to make the newly formed Warner Bros. Discovery a profitable company as it had been in the past. When companies such as Warner Bros. permanently remove shows from their streaming services they no longer have to pay the cast and crew residuals, which are a form of compensation for a series/film after they have been released. By doing this streaming companies can avoid the high fees that come with residuals, improving their profits overall. 

The first big one being the cancellation of the film “Batgirl”, where the company had already spent 90 million dollars on the film. This announcement caused a big stir within the film community, as the movie was practically finished and the company announced that it would not be coming to theaters or even streaming – instead, it was being canceled for tax write offs.

Corridor via YouTube

If a form of media gets removed for tax write offs, then legally people have no easy way to access the now lost media. People must resort to piracy if they want to view any series that they were once able to enjoy with the security that it would not be leaving their service of choice anytime soon.

About 36 titles were removed from HBO Max, making the statistic especially surprising, as a mass removal of this quantity rarely happens with a media conglomerate this large. Especially one who operates the service under the HBO name considering the high prestige that comes with the brand, whenever their name is linked to a project. By removing such a large amount of series, Warner set the precedent that other corporations of their size can permanently remove media from the public with little to no repercussions. 

Companies that operate in the media sphere can oftentimes be ignorant of what the people who view their services want. Issues such as the one I mentioned earlier are just one of many examples. They actively discourage people from using their services and honestly make pirating content seem like it is okay. I mean, they aren’t offering an alternative, so why must they get upset when people flock to pirated websites to find a show a friend recommended to them that just happened to have been permanently removed from a streaming service. The consumer is not at fault, they just wanted to enjoy what could have been their new favorite show or movie and had no alternative.  

In the future, companies need to hold themselves more accountable to piracy. They need to provide alternatives to make sure people don’t flock to pirated websites, when they could just keep their series on streaming services at the interest of the viewers. If the streaming companies hold the favor of the general population, then consumers are more likely to stay with the brand leading to more potential profits down the line.  They will not have to worry about people mass canceling their subscriptions due to an outrage which was completely the fault of the company.