November 30, 2012

On Stealing Duck Dynasty

I have a few friends who are fans of the reality television series “Duck Dynasty.”

Granted, it’s probably not the most sophisticated series on television, but these friends of mine (and even a family member or two) rave about this show.

In fact, their attitude towards this show is nearing the fervor once reserved for “Lost.”

Though I never watched the show (I became adamant in my refusal to watch as the years went on) I could never get away from wide-eyed fanatics looking at me with a sideways and hopeful glance. Before the words came out, I knew what they were going to say…

“You DO watch Lost, right?”

I’m still not allowed to talk about it in my own home, but I digress.

I don’t watch a lot of television, but I want to understand why these friends of mine think it’s so damned hilarious to say, “That makes me happy happy happy!”

This need to be included (and my refusal to subscribe to cable television) sent me looking for ways to watch “Duck Dynasty” on the cheap, if not free. I quickly searched Netflix, but was found wanting.

As an Amazon Prime member, I had hoped I could find these episodes there. They were available, but at $1.99 per episode. I want to be included, but I’ve also chosen to be a tech writer. No Dice.

Apple carries series one and two, but this time at $2.99.

Nothing doing.

Frederic Filloux with The Guardian told a similar story on Monday, with the exception that he wanted to watch “Homeland”, which I suppose might be a little more respectable a show to watch than “Duck Dynasty.”

Mr. Filloux then goes on to make a point about the old and outdated distribution model used by these content providers, the television and movie studios who still work on a broad release schedule.

In order to keep movie theaters, cable TV, video rental stores and network TVs from eating one another’s lunch, these studios would stagger the release of their material. Those days are long gone now, and to be fair, these providers have taken some steps into the cold light of the future by offering digital downloads with physical copies. New movies are even available on iTunes and Amazon pretty soon after they’ve left the theaters.

As Mr. Filloux explains, (I had the same dilemma) this is where many people simply turn to piracy.

I still have the option of typing in “Duck Dynasty Torrents” into my favorite search engine and will be presented with exactly what I want with relative ease.

Of course, I’d also have to live with the subtle guilt that should accompany pirating of any sort, but by and large, it’s easy to see this as a victim-less crime. It’s not, but it’s the old adage of “Everyone’s doing it…”

There are a few issues here I have trouble with:

These content providers are being far too stubborn in their negotiations with the Amazons, the Apples, the Hulus and the Netflixs of the world. The fact is, it’s incredibly easy to steal content these days, and there are a lot of people who would willingly pay for content. Having never seen an episode of this “Duck Dynasty,” I’d like to at least know what I’m paying for. At the risk of riding my high horse, I will mention that I enjoy paying for material I already know and love. My vinyl LP collection has been growing at an embarrassing rate, and each album I own I’ve already purchased in some other format— sometimes 3 formats. My father raised me on a steady diet of Monty Python. I’ve lost count on how many times I’ve bought a copy of “Monty Python and the Holy Grail.” lent it to a friend or lost it, and had to buy another. Last week, I bought it again in iTunes just so I can have it on my myriad of Apple devices whenever I want to watch the Frenchman launch cattle from the top of the castle.

There are many like me who want to pay for content, but these providers are still holding onto these movies and series for whatever reason. Maybe they’re trying to create a sense of exclusivity. Maybe they’re trying to test our patience. No matter their reasoning, they’re leaving us all perturbed.

Then there are those who honestly don’t give a damn.

These are the worst kinds of people, the ones who believe if it CAN be free, it SHOULD be free.

They claim to fight for the Freedom of the Internet, the “Freedom of Information,” but they don’t understand basic and simple economics.

In conclusion, it is my belief that both sides of the silver screen have done wrong.

In short, content providers must give consumers the chance to do something right. As it stands, any consumer who wishes to watch a new film or program can either purchase to rent it, (if it’s available) wait patiently for it to become available, or go find somewhere to download it for free.

There are risks involved in the last option, sure, but those who are accustomed to pirating material are well aware of these risks and can avoid them.

Just as the music industry did in the late 90s, Hollywood needs to trust consumers to make the right choice and make their content available to the fans, the ones who are going to go out of their way to watch.

Similarly, consumers need to learn some patience.

Just because you CAN do something doesn’t mean you SHOULD do something.

The latest season of whatever sexy-forensics-detective-cop-drama may not be available to purchase yet, but it will be.

I put it to anyone that they can wait a month or 3 to sit on their ass and watch hours of television.

I know my old-fashioned nature is showing here, but if you are willing to steal because you simply can’t wait a few weeks to watch your favorite television show or movie, then perhaps you have other issues which need addressing first.

In the end, the issue still remains. I believe the industry needs to start stepping up and giving consumers what they want, but consumers shouldn’t start ransacking the store and taking whatever they want whenever they want.

It’s just not classy.

And if there’s one thing I hope to one day learn from the boys of “Duck Dynasty,” it’s class.

Image Credit: A&E

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