Netflix And The Return Of The Dark Torrents Of The Internet

The rise of Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, and the online streaming services looks to be driving a growth in BitTorrent usage and media piracy.

When consumers are given easy and almost friction free access to the media (even if it’s a £10/month fee) they’re going to stay there, rather than explore the darker corners of the internet. While there are still questions over revenue distribution (especially with streaming music services) this is still a better option for creators than having everyone pirate the latest album or TV series.

The problem is that the myriad of services, all with their own monthly membership fees marketed with a rising number of exclusive series, coupled with contractual limitations and limited surprisingly limited back catalogues means that the legal landscape is, frankly, a bit of a mess.

I’d quite like to watch Season 3 of ‘The Expanse’… and yes that’s an understatement. It aired in April this year in America, but Netflix UK only carried the first two seasons. Presumably Amazon UK will have it at some point before Season 4, but it’s difficult to search for news without risking spoilers.

The Good Place‘ does very well in this respect, with the UK release happening shortly after the US release. But because of ‘The Good Place’ I’m ready to dip into ‘Cheers’ again. Nowhere to be streamed.

There are two straightforward answers to this. The first is to go find some DVDs (oh look, region locks). The second is to do what we did before the explosion in video streaming sites… head to the dark corners of the internet and let the online community solve the acquisition problem.

Yes, BitTorrent is once more on the rise. Motherboard’s Karl Bode lays it out:

The content industry spent years trying to battle piracy via all manner of heavy handed-tactics and lawsuits, only to realize that offering users inexpensive, quality, legitimate services was the best solution. Many users flocked to these services because they provided a less-expensive, more flexible alternative to traditional cable.

Now, if the industry isn’t careful, it could lose a sizeable chunk of this newfound audience back to piracy by making it overly expensive and cumbersome to access the content subscribers are looking for.

If you make the legal solution easier than the alternatives, the legal solution will win. But the internet was designed to route round obstacles. While that might have been to offer some resilience in the case of nuclear war, it’s also about seeing the latest episode of someone’s favourite TV show.