I tried to watch Game of Thrones and this is what happened – The Oatmeal


Here’s my favourite web comic, on a pet hate of mine: how the entertainment industry makes it impossible for you to pay for their products legally, thus causing you to either not bother with their products (surely they don’t want this?) or forcing you into the arms of illegal file sharing sites (surely they don’t want this?)

I tried to watch Game of Thrones and this is what happened – The Oatmeal.

Let’s enumerate the ways in which the entertainment industry makes it impossible for customers to acquire products legally.

1. Staggered release dates. The whole internet is talking about something, but you’re not allowed to buy it yet. You can follow a link to the iTunes music store, but you have to “change country”. And even if you do, you can only buy if you have a credit card through a bank based in that country. So what do you do? You either have to pay through the nose for an import on physical media, for which you might wait weeks, or you just go ahead and find a freakin’ download.

2. Region codes. Yeah, you can order this DVD from Amazon US, or Amazon France, but they’ll try to make it really difficult to play your legitimately purchased DVD in your player or computer. You might be able to hack the region code, or change it “up to 5 times”, but, hey, it’s quicker and easier to just find a freakin’ download. And as a bonus, the illegal download doesn’t have a 14 minute section where you’re not allowed to CONTROL YOUR DVD PLAYER WITH THE REMOTE CONTROL THAT YOU PURCHASED, and funnily enough it doesn’t SCOLD YOU AND WARN YOU ABOUT PIRACY every time you put it in the machine, even though you FREAKING WELL PAID FOR THE THING IN THE FIRST PLACE, though you might wish you hadn’t bothered. And as an extra, extra bonus, the illegal download DOESN’T HAVE A BLODDY KITKAT ADVERT ON IT THAT YOU CAN’T SKIP, EVEN THOUGH YOU PAID FOR IT SO THAT YOU WOULDN’T HAVE TO WATCH ADVERTS.

3. They play Monopoly. They think we care about their competition with other studios and other platforms and companies, so that we’ll tolerate their refusal to licence their content on “rival” services, or make their content available only in the particular format they’re supporting this week. So Warners won’t let LoveFilm rent their movies. So what do you do? Find a freakin’ download. It’s easier.

4. They continue to act as if national borders, licence agreements, release dates, television standards, networks, services, platforms and formats have any relevance in the age of the internet. They want you to support the format they like, or the service they like, or pay for a subscription to something when all you want is that one thing they did that was quite good, when everything else they do is rubbish. So what do you do? Find a download.

5. They tell you the release date, then they “leak” the content to favoured journalists or reviewers, or influential bloggers, and they expect us to read all the gushing previews and wait patiently for the official release date, because they’ve marked a date on the calendar. But that’s just for little people like you and me, and the really important people have already seen it, or heard it. Or they make it available for “streaming only” 4 weeks before the actual release date. But you don’t want to be tied to your computer or your wifi network while you stream the content. So what do you do? You audio hijack it, or wiretap studio it, or you find someone who has: you find a download.

6. They’re going to make it available for a reasonable price eventually. But right now, they want you, the biggest fan, to pay a premium for it. See, those people who don’t care that much and are happy to wait, they’ll pay £2.99. But because you really love this artist and you want it now and not in six months, they want you to pay £9.99. Or £14.99. Or however much they think they can get away with. They know they’re ripping you off, especially when it’s a download and has no packaging or art, or anything else attached to it, but they don’t care. So what do you do?