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Different release times of films and TV shows boost global piracy

Different release times of films and TV shows boost global piracy

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A couple of months ago, I purchased the first season of the TV series Homeland from the iTunes Store. I paid $32 for 12 episodes that all landed seamlessly in my iPad. I gulped them in a few days and was left in a state of withdrawal. Then, on 30 September, when season 2 started over, I would have had no alternative but to download free but illegal torrent files. Seems the Guardian are on the same wavelength us me on this one...... A couple of months ago, I purchased the first season of the TV series Homeland from the iTunes Store. I paid $32 for 12 episodes that all landed seamlessly in my iPad. I gulped them in a few days and was left in a state of withdrawal. Then, on 30 September, when season 2 started over, I would have had no alternative but to download free but illegal torrent files. Hundreds of thousands of people anxious to find out the whereabouts of the Marine turncoat pursued by the bi-polar CIA operative were in the same quandary (go to the dedicated Guardian blog for more on the series).

In the process, the three losers are: • The Fox 21 production company. It carries the risk of putting the show together (which costs about $36m per season, $3m per episode) • Apple which takes its usual cut. (The net loss for both will actually be $64 since the show has been signed up for a third season by the paid-for Showtime channel and I wonder if I'll have the patience to wait months for its availability on iTunes.) • And me, as I would have to go through the painstaking task of finding the right torrent file, hoping that it is not bogus, corrupted, or worse, infected by a virus.

Here, we highlight the stupidity of the release windows system, a relic of the VHS era. To make a long story short, the idea goes back to the 80s when the industry devised a system to prevent different media – at the time, cinemas, TV networks, cable TV and VHS – from cannibalising each other. In the case of a motion picture, the release windows mechanism called for a four months' delay before its release on DVD, additional months for the release on pay-TV, video-on-demand, and a couple of years before showing up on mainstream broadcast networks (where the film is heavily edited, laced with commercial, dubbed, etc).

The western world was not the only one to adopt the release window system.

Read the rest of this article over at The Guardian.

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