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Spoiler Alert! Illegal Downloaders Steal Content Even When Legally Available

Gilmore-Girls

The film and TV industry receives a lot of flak from critics for being its own worst enemy. If Hollywood studios want consumers to pay for content, the argument goes, then they should make it easier to download legally. If piracy is a problem for the industry, then maybe it should take a hard look in the mirror.

The only problem with this argument is that it’s completely false. KPMG just released a first of its kind study assessing the availability of movies and TV shows online. It found that as of December 2013, 81 percent of the 808 unique films studied were available on at least 10 of the 34 online video-on-demand (VOD) service providers. Only 50 of the films studied were not available on any of the 34 online video offerings that KPMG reviewed. The study also found rapid growth in the number of TV viewing options available to audiences. Overall, 85 percent of the most popular and critically acclaimed TV titles were available in the U.S. through legitimate online video services.

This development could not be timelier, with both the ramp up to the Oscars and Fall TV primetime viewing beginning. If viewers like Reese Witherspoon in Wild and Benedict Cumberbatch in The Imitation Game (both movies already receiving 2015 Oscar buzz), then it turns out it’s pretty easy for them to engross themselves in watching these actors’ earlier work. Viewers can catch up on old episodes of Sherlock on Netflix or enjoy Walk the Line or Legally Blonde through Amazon. And everyone from the New York Times to Buzzfeed this week has been celebrating the addition of Gilmore Girls to Netflix on October 1st — proving that new, beloved content is becoming available every day.

Indeed, of the 808 films reviewed, KPMG found many new and relatively recent films available, such as:

  • 100 percent of 2012 U.S. top 100 box office hits
  • 100 percent of all 85 Oscar winning best films
  • 100 percent of all 60 Indie top hit films from 2011-2013
  • 98 percent of U.S. Top 20 box office hits each year from 2000 through 2010
  • 96 percent of the American Film Institute’s Top 100 critically acclaimed films
  • 77 percent of 2013 U.S. Top 100 box office hits (including films that were still in first-run in theaters at the time of the study)

The same is true of TV — KMPG found that 87 percent of the Top 100 U.S. TV shows in 2013 and 96 percent of the top 100 U.S. TV shows in 2012 were available on at least one of the 34 services studied.

Accessing content isn’t that hard, and as this study shows, to complain about the difficulty in doing so is frankly mostly whining. So to those out there who continuously find joy and righteousness in lamenting the difficulty of finding recent good shows and movies online the timeless words of Lorelai Gilmore are probably the best response: Oy with the poodles already.

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About the author

Michelle Wein is a Trade Policy Analyst at ITIF, specializing in the connections between international trade, innovation, intellectual property and economic productivity.
  • Lolly Cuddlepop

    I get all my stuff free from the bootleg sights, even award consideration dvd quality copies of films that haven’t been released yet. You’d have to spend a small fortune every month to have all 34 VOD services this article refers to, who wants to do that?

  • https://twitter.com/UgandaWash jasonlives314

    If people stop paying for art then people will stop producing art. If you illegally download films, music, television programming, books, magazines, etc. then I challenge you to go to your job tomorrow and tell them you don’t want to be compensated for your work. You go work for free. That is exactly what you are expecting of filmmakers, writers and creatives. That is their JOB and you are outright stealing from their pockets. You are stealing their children’s education. You’re stealing the clothing from their backs. I’m not just talking about the Anjelina Jolies of the industry either. You are stealing the wages of the grips, gaffers, electrics, production designers, makeup artists, boom operators, drivers, the craft services staff…..you are a thief, plain and simple. I also challenge you to walk into Best Buy or Barnes & Noble and just take what you want. You just grab it and walk out. If you get caught, you just tell them you pay for broadband internet service and as such you are entitled to take whatever you wish. You’re doing the same thing already, but with the anonymity of the internet to shield you. If you truly believe you are entitled to it and that it’s completely justified then you go in and steal it from a store. If it’s justifiable then you should have nothing to fear, right? If you’re lacking the brass to do that then think twice before you steal people’s intellectual property from the internet just because you won’t be caught and held accountable. If you can strangle your neighbor without the risk of getting caught you’ll do that too, yeah? I mean, you’re not doing anything wrong if you can’t be caught.