Second, unlike with music, the user experience for enjoying pirated TV shows and movies is considerably worse than with the legal version. A song downloaded illegally using Limewire can be enjoyed just as easily on one's iPod as the legal 99-cent version bought on iTunes (and some prefer the Limewire version, given the absence of Apple FairPlay DRM). With movies and TV shows, however, the experience of watching legal content (say, from a DVD) is vastly better than that obtained by downloading illegally. Buy a DVD, and you can watch it without hassle on your 46-inch LCD from the comfort of your couch. Download last week's Hollywood release from BitTorrent, and -- unless you're pretty damn tech-savvy -- you're probably going to have to watch it while sitting at your desk staring at a computer screen, or maybe on your laptop. Tolerable for a 22-minute TV episode; really unpleasant for a 2-hour movie.
The TV and film industry's piracy problem is going to increase by orders of magnitude once it's fairly easy to watch on a normal TV content downloaded onto a computer. That day isn't quite here, and now comes news that it's a little farther away than we thought. Comes news from Wired that a device called Myka, apparently designed to make it as easy as possible to watch on your TV content illegally downloaded using BitTorrent, is -- for the moment -- still "vaporware":
A set-top box with a built-in BitTorrent client, the Myka had the Pirate Bay crowd salivating when it was first announced in March. And rightly so when you consider a tiny box with HDMI connections, H.264 and Blu-ray support, embedded Linux, a 160GB hard drive and the ability to suck all of Hollywood's top hits directly from the file-sharing networks, no purchase required.
But the pirate's dream appliance remains a pipe dream, and it looks likely to stay that way. As reader Chris Lindley points out, Myka's website is still taking pre-orders, even though the user forums are overrun with spam and requests for refunds.
Once it truly does become as easy to watch an illegally downloaded movie on your TV as it is to listen to an illegally downloaded song on your iPod -- and I suspect that's going to happen within the next 2-4 years -- piracy risks becoming a reasonable substitute for legitimate DVD purchases by mainstream consumers, threatening one of the industry's (stagnant or declining) profit centers. The fight against piracy isn't going to get any easier.