Pirate Spotting

Avast! Brian Appleyaaard! The hammy Bible-bashing tech/culture journo we all love to hate came out on Sunday as a shameless raider of intellectual property in his article on the death of TV last weekend:

"...the internet has begun to work as it should. Thanks to broadband, students now routinely download 
the best television shows — at the moment, that means the US hospital comedy Scrubs — over the net and, 
happily, pass them on to me. Video is now at the same stage as audio was when Napster first started. 
Just as MP3 chipped away at the foundations of the record industry, so video downloading is subverting 
television and film.

In fact there are two things in the above quote that are notable as indicative of the state of the copyfight to date: the first is the fact that a mainstream hack writing for none other than the Sunday Times can happily admit to consuming bootleg TV shows (although oddly, not actually downloading them – a bit like not inhaling, eh Brian?). The second is the bald assumption that such activity undermines the visual media industry. This is pure Chomsky: repeat something often enough (“home taping is killing music, MP3 is killing music, BitTorrent is killing video…”) and it becomes an accepted fact.

My opinion of Appleyard has always been a pretty low one, but I’m glad he’s written this article as some of the wider issues are pretty well observed. I wonder how BT and the rest will fare? Personally, I think Appleyard is probably right about the fate of TV as we know it, but wrong in his assumption that it will be relegated to a media backwater. He’s really just attacking the schedules. The programme quality factor is irrelevant. Who cares what he thinks about Scrubs?