Illegal downloading has become arguably the most addressed issue within discussions about the contemporary TV climate.  With the insane popularity of Game of Thrones, HBO’s first full-scale foray into the fantasy genre, the debate has reached entirely new heights.

The show first premiered in early 2011 to both audience and critical acclaim. It’s set in a fantastical parallel universe and tells the story of the violent contest for the Iron Throne of Westeros.  If you want to learn more about the series, check it out at

The DVD sales for the first season were the highest of any HBO series to date. But what’s more impressive is the number of both legal and illegal downloads of the show.  Episodes from the second season were, reportedly, downloaded via public torrent trackers around 2.5million times per day… each!

Don’t worry, I’m not going vomit up my own moral stance on downloading. That’s been done so many times on similar blogs that it’s become a cliche. Instead, I thought it would be interesting to look at the opposing media-outlet groups who have varied opinions on the subject and examine why they think the way they do.

On one hand, we have the mainstream media.  These guys, in general, condemn unauthorised downloads as immoral, potentially damaging to the respective industry, and just plain stealing!

 “The fact is that piracy is killing the industry. What we are talking about is actually a criminal act. We need to change all our attitudes towards illegal downloading and recognise that it is theft”

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One the other hand, we have the bloggers.  Those technologically-savvy individuals who spew their opinions into the figurative ‘blogosphere’ and expect others to read and care (myself included).  This group tends to support the opposite contention, and argue that quality TV should be free for all.  They view the whole issue as HBO’s own problem for making the show inaccessible to many, and they see little-no ethical problems with downloading shows for free.

“The new episodes aren’t available on Hulu, Netflix, or iTunes, and you need cable to access HBO Go. So… why not download when HBO makes access so difficult?”

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They both have valid points!  HBO don’t make it easy, or cheap, to watch Game of Thrones legally.  But on the flip side, downloading is lowering the profitability of the network, which will threaten the likelihood of continued production of high-budget shows like Game of Thrones! So why such opposing stances on the same issue?

With the mainstream media, it’s nice and simple; they are trying to discourage the unlimited sourcing of free content.  As the ‘getting-all-of-your-information-for-free’ trend extends from entertainment into the realm of news and current affairs, mainstream media sees it as their prerogative to discourage such ideas.

The bloggers, on the other hand, are a much more complex and interesting bunch. We have to consider them as both producers and consumers of information.  They operate within a domain that gives them almost complete agency for free speech.  A blogger is used to being able to express their opinion and obtain the opinions of others FOR FREE! They view non-material, intellectually entertaining content as the property of the people because that’s what they produce/consume in everyday blogging life. Hence, in the mind of the contemporary blogger, the occasional download is simply them exercising their right to consume information.

Oh well, either way Game of Thrones is still ridiculously awesome!