Cancel Cable Without Losing Your Favorite Shows

Cable is one of the first things you should cut to keep expenses down, but that doesn’t mean you should ditch your favorite shows. J.D. over at Get Rich Slowly cut his cable bill from $65.82 to $11.30 without missing a single harrowing plot twist. Here’s how he did it…

J.D. basically designed his own à la carte programming instead of paying for a mess of unnecessary cable channels. He relied on two resources:

  • iTunes: “Since we started, we’ve purchased eleven “seasons” from iTunes, totaling $398.42 (or about $36.22 per season). This works out to about $16.60 per month. When added to our $11.30 basic cable bill, we’re paying $27.90 each month for television. That’s less than half of what we were paying before.”
  • Hulu: Every respectable network streams their shows, and Hulu is one of the better spots to watch full episodes online. Anyone outside the U.S. or in need of more obscure shows can also try SurfTheChannel.

How I Cut My Television Bill in Half [Get Rich Slowly]
(Photo: jonny.hunter)

[Ed. Previously this post had a mention about Bittorrent. It has been removed. Consumerist does not advocate piracy.

Comments

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  1. bxbrett says:

    For movies a good bitorrent site is [www.limewire.com]

    Easy program to download for those without a lot of technical skills and all of the films nominated for the Oscars this year are available for free download as well as most current films.

    Watched The Wrestler and Taken this morning.

    For live sporting events, including PPV events for free, try [www.justin.tv]

    Tons of free tv available on the net.

    Why pay for cable or sat?

    • odhen says:

      @bxbrett: Uhh…you realize those “free” movies are illegal downloads, and not given out freely by the studios, right?

      The way you worded your post makes it seem like you believe the studios are giving away these movies for free.

    • ttk2 says:

      @bxbrett: Also limewire is filled with viruses, easy to track and is always uploading if you going to torrent use a different client like utorrnet. much much more universal

    • ojzitro says:

      @bxbrett: There are better alternative to limewire.

      Public Trackers:

      [www.mininova.org]
      [isohunt.com]
      [eztv.it]

      Programs:

      [www.utorrent.com]
      [azureus.sourceforge.net]

      Short list, but a good start.

    • 5h17h34d says:

      @bxbrett: Wow.

      Frankly, anyone who recommends Limewire really doesn’t have the savvy to recommend stuff to other people on an internet forum such as this. You really need to NOT install Limewire on any machine.

      Bad stuff, also can get you into trouble but that’s a discussion for another day.

    • ionerox says:

      @bxbrett: Ew, Limewire sucks.

      At the very least, it’s a resource hog.

      And then you have to consider how it exposes your computer completely (opening up network ports), and downloading files from unknown sources means you could be downloaded a heck of a lot more than a video or song (say, keyloggers, trojans, spyware, etc.)

      • DePaulBlueDemon says:

        @ionerox:

        Not to beat a dead horse, but did you seriously recommend Limewire or was that a complete joke? I think I may be detecting a slight sarcastic tone to your post.

        DO NOT, under ANY circumstances use Limewire!

        Also, those “free” movies are only free because someone ripped a copy of a DVD screener and posted it on the Internet.

    • Chiz0 says:

      @bxbrett:
      People still use Limewire??

    • Ein2015 says:

      @bxbrett: Limewire?! It’s a trap!

    • SquareBubbles says:

      @bxbrett: First off, Limewire is not BitTorrent, it’s a simple P2P app which I believe runs on the Gnutella network. BitTorrent is a completely different protocol.

      Also, downloading TV and certainly movies is certainly illegal.

      Just get a Netflix subscription (all but the most basic come with Instant Watch) and install Boxee. You’ll have quick access to tons of movies and an incredible amount of shows new and old.

      • Satanicat says:

        @SquareBubbles:

        If you’re Canadian it is 100% LEGAL to download all the above. So long as you are privately viewing said downloads, and are not distributing any content yourself.

        So, if Canadian, have at it. Do not use Limewire. That pos has more trash and viruses than anyone could care to shake a stick at (and some people love to shake their sticks let me tell you!).

      • Cyberxion101 says:

        @SquareBubbles: I use PlayOn with my PS3 and it has Hulu support as well as support for my Netflix queue. It’s nifty to watch all this content on my television instead of being tied to my computer.

        The only problem is that I’m unsure about the future of this program, given that a big to-do was made about Boxee being forced to remove Hulu support. I don’t wanna pay forty bucks for PlayOn only to have the same thing happen there, given that by-and-large, the Hulu support is the reason to use it.

  2. sinfuly Delicious says:

    wow… i never thought i would see the day that consumerist would tell us to steal something…. downloading tv shows from torrents is just that.

    At least with the streaming sites there are commercials to earn revenue for theses shows that we love and im sure would love to keep on the air as long as possible.

    • SteveBMD says:

      @sinfuly Delicious: I agree. I can cut my monthly food bill by stuffing a few steaks down my pants at the local supermarket, but something tells me Consumerist isn’t going to advise me to do that.

      Of course, in this economy, you never know.

    • ojzitro says:

      @sinfuly Delicious: I agree, I try and use Hulu for my replay needs.

      The only argument is that, if you Roll your own DVR, and remove the commercials, isn’t that the same as downloading from Torrent sites?

      Roll Your Own DVR:
      [lifehacker.com]

      • sinfuly Delicious says:

        @ojzitro: Rolling your own dvr means you had to have had access to the show to begin with. Meaning you either are paying for the show or its over the air and the commercials were there.

        Thats not stealing.

        • ojzitro says:

          @sinfuly Delicious: Then why is 30 Rock a “pay for it” event on OnDemand, and free on Hulu.

          NBC airs free. If I Record it and remove the commercials, it’s essentially stealing according to you. When I was making mix tapes for girls I liked in 8th grade, was I a thief then too?

          • sinfuly Delicious says:

            @ojzitro: if you are having to pay for the on demand service your cable company is ripping you off. ouch.

            if you record the show and edit out the commercials… you had the means to get the show to begin with.. (the show was coming to you via OTA or paying for cable.) means that you are supporting the networks. But to download an entire series of shows (Weeds, Dexter, Monk, Family Guy) and avoiding the payment process through devious means…. thats a bit different.

          • The Cynical Librarian says:

            @ojzitro: Only of hearts, sir.

    • chrylis says:

      @sinfuly Delicious: Torrenting TV shows may be copyright infringement, but it’s not stealing, legally or ethically. When someone makes a copy of information, the original is still in place (and furthermore, there are plenty of instances in which the copying is noninfringing, even though the studios pretend otherwise).

      Calling copyright infringement “theft” or “stealing” precludes any reasonable discussion on a controversial issue.

      • Anonymous says:

        @chrylis:

        Ignoring the spirit of the law in favor of the letter of the law is what precludes any reasonable discussion on a controversial issue. Taking something without paying is stealing. It doesn’t matter if a physical copy is transferred or not. Ethically, this isn’t even a question. you didn’t pay for it, you have no right to possess it. Legally speaking, many lawmakers in the US have spoken on this topic and defined piracy as theft.

      • sinfuly Delicious says:

        @chrylis: It is stealing. If you are watching any cable network show without any form of payment back to then (Major networks get commercials, Cable networks get subscriptions from suscribers.. the same for the premium channels shows.)

        So how are they supposed to get their money?

        • humphrmi says:

          @sinfuly Delicious: I buy the DVDs, then download a copy as a backup and to run the movie through my T.V.-connected computer. Fair use.

          Sure, not everyone who downloads movies is doing so under the auspices of Fair Use. Likewise, not everyone who downloads movies is stealing either.

          • Xerloq says:

            humphrmi: You do have the right to a backup, but I wouldn’t download a copy and defend it in court as fair use.

            Fair use isn’t mentioned in copyright code, but has arisen out of precedent set in court cases. Currently fair use covers things like criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. [www.copyright.gov]

            The catch here is that you haven’t infringed on the distribution, the person who provided it for download did. Usually, however, file sharing means you’re both uploading and downloading.

            • humphrmi says:

              @Xerloq: I can download without making anything available for upload.

            • RogueSophist says:

              @Xerloq: Fair use is of course codified in 17 U.S.C. Sec. 107, so it’s more than “mentioned.” What use is “fair” and what’s not continuously evolves on a case-by-case (and jurisdiction-by-jurisdiction) basis, which I think is your point.

        • shifuimam says:

          @sinfuly Delicious: You’re assuming that everyone who downloads would otherwise spend the money. The thing is, if you can’t afford cable TV, if you don’t download shows, the TV network still hasn’t gotten your money. If you do download shows, they’ve already gotten their money from someone who purchased the DVD, ripped it, and uploaded it to the Internet.

          You also have to take into account the fact that a small fraction of the TV-watching population actually downloads shows. The Internet is a poor representation of the population as a whole, especially considering that a large number of older people subscribe to cable and know nothing about Bittorrent.

          There is no difference between downloading a commercial-free rip and using a DVR to bypass commercials. I doubt that networks are getting paid every time someone views a commercial – rather, they get paid by companies every time they put a commercial in an hour of programming. It’s not any different than disabling images in Firefox, so that image ads are never downloaded from the ad server.

      • engstewart says:

        @chrylis: ‘Calling copyright infringement “theft” or “stealing” precludes any reasonable discussion on a controversial issue.’

        Funny, so does justifying actions that you know are ethically, morally, and legally wrong.

        If someone were to COPY everything on your hard drive without your permission, I’m pretty sure you would call it theft, even if the original data were left in place. Right?! It’s easy to justify until it happens to you…

        • chrylis says:

          @engstewart: No, I wouldn’t call it theft. If it were nonpublic information, I might call it invasion of privacy, conversion, or trespass, but not theft. If it were publicly information, I wouldn’t have a problem with it.

          Remember that the copyright regime as we know it is only about 80 years old. People have been producing art and otherwise advancing culture for much longer than that, and while copyright may be convenient policy, it has nothing to do with moral issues (see “works for hire” and similar).

    • TracyHamandEggs says:

      @sinfuly Delicious: Well, stealing does make you a good consumer. Even if it means that eventually the networks wont make quality programs if they cant pull in revenue.

      • ojzitro says:

        @TracyHamandEggs: They aren’t making them now.

        Landscapes change, and if you do not adapt, you’ll lose business. Since the inception of TV, up until cable, TV was free. Cable changed that, and now the internet is enforcing a shift back toward the former. This is a good thing.

        If half of the shit shows on TV disappeared, that would be fabulous, thin the heard. They put out shit, game the numbers on people watching, and it self propagates into what we have now; A large number of unwatchable programming, with some talented writing sprinkled in between.

        You won’t have to worry about big media making money, they’ll find a way, they’re smart but unfortunately stubborn.

        • sinfuly Delicious says:

          @ojzitro: TV IS STILL FREE. If you dont want the cable programming you can get rabbit ears and get the same channels that were back then. However there are companies that dont get government money to keep their stations up.

          FOX, CBS, NBC, ABC, CBS, all get govt assistance for their free channels. TNT, TBS, UPS, USA and the such do not. they have to work harder.

          • ojzitro says:

            @sinfuly Delicious: They can choose to work harder, or smarter.

            There are too many options, half of these channels are useless and should be relegated to the internet. This is the thinning of the herd, enjoy it. The less eyeballs on these channels, the better in my opinion.

            Your argument does not hold water, if I walk upstairs to my neighbors to watch Mad Men, am I stealing?

            • sinfuly Delicious says:

              @ojzitro: If the shows suck then dont download… and dont watch. No viewers. No ratings. No show.

              And if you go upstairs to watch a show… thats not stealing. Unless the show you are watching was a torrent’d show. If you are watching Monk on usa with your neighbor upstairs. They are paying for the cable (hopefully) and USA, the actors, the crew, are all getting money they worked hard for.

          • Plates says:

            @sinfuly Delicious: UPS? I didn’t know there was a brown channel. What is it 24/7 of packages getting lost?

        • TracyHamandEggs says:

          @ojzitro: Well then why would you download that show?

        • richcreamerybutter says:

          @ojzitro: If you’ll allow me to support your post with the steak analogy, I offer the following: imagine visiting your grocery store in hopes of walking out with steak, swiss chard, and a bottle of freshly squeezed grapefruit juice. The store says, “we can’t let you do that unless you also purchase a box of Twinkies, instant Sanka, half-rotten iceberg lettuce, 3 containers of Lunchables, and 64 oz. of Sunny Delight.”

          That’s basically what the cable companies are doing with their tier system.

          I would gladly pay an appropriate price for a la carte service. The onus to retain customers rests with the ability of cable companies to offer attractive services, not threatening those who torrent a few shows.

        • JamieSueAustin says:

          @ojzitro: I agree. File sharing of all types is a symptom of a shift in the free market. People expect to receive more entertainment value for their money AND the capability to use their media, without penalty or charge, in a variety of formats and devices. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve “illegally” downloaded movies I already owned because they were already converted to smaller .AVI formatted files(before I hear about it from someone I’m not a resolution snob, the degradation in picture quality isn’t really noticeable to me.)

          Big Media will just have to get with the program or die. If they want to make money they can consider an all advertisement driven approach (tasteful and non intrusive), and interactive approach (like what Samantha is wearing? Click HERE to buy it!), a subscription approach (all the media you can download, DRM free for -X-$ a month) or any number of ideas to make money.

      • sinfuly Delicious says:

        @TracyHamandEggs: Stealing is not good consumering. Being an aware consumer and knowing your options makes you a good consumer.

        Stuffing steaks down my pants does not make me a good consumer. :)

    • codepage9 says:

      @sinfuly Delicious:
      You record a show on your VCR or Teevo or whatever and skip the commercials when watching them again.

      Oh noes House is gonna be canceled cause I skipped the advertising.
      /sarcasm

      I disagree with your definition of theft. Downloading something does not prevent the copyright owner from making a profit on it, downloading does not stop the person from purchasing the media they’re sampling, or suggest it to their friends.

      I believe that streaming tv shows with commercials is an excellent idea, I just wish they would offer more of their shows.

      • sinfuly Delicious says:

        @codepage9: Sampling shows? Most people I know dont sample shows they download… they download the whole series and keep it on a HD or burn to dvd.

        As for the tivo and FF through the commercials. The commercials are still there you just choose to skip through them. Just like changing the channel on a commercial.

        Streaming is a great way and more and more are doing that.

        Hulu.com
        NBC.com
        CBS.com
        Fox.com/FOD
        Southparkstudios.com

        • ojzitro says:

          @sinfuly Delicious: But they don’t make nearly as much money on the internet as TV, so I’m still killing the programs?

          • sinfuly Delicious says:

            @ojzitro: they get more viewers. and they get the income they agreed to. if you are saying they are not making enough that is what they agreed to.

            At that point your hands are clean. :)

            • ojzitro says:

              @sinfuly Delicious: Agree to Disagree.

              I see this as a thinning of an overpopulated media environment. Less shows, more money for surviving shows and networks.

              You’re debating copyright infringement, and I’m not sure you understand it intricacies. Hell, I’ve read the thing twice before, and it’s still muddy to me.

              [www.copyright.gov]

              • sinfuly Delicious says:

                @ojzitro: Think of copyright as this… unless you have purchesed the show in some mean. you have not right to make a copy or own a copy.

                If i own the dvd. i have a right for a digital copy. if i do it myself or download it.. i have paid for the show.

                however.. the tv shows that are being torented. and with the TED program that was listed. it shows you hhow to get the shows as they are released on torrent sites. those shows have yet to be released to be sold. the closest you can get is normally itunes.

                • ojzitro says:

                  @sinfuly Delicious: Interpretive.

                  Show me the clauses in the law.

                  • sinfuly Delicious says:

                    @ojzitro: with that way of thinking. show me the laws where you have a right to own something you never bought or paid for in ANY means?

                    • ojzitro says:

                      @sinfuly Delicious: You’re arguing without having a base, take a break and go read that copyright law, and show me where the section is pertaining to downloading a showed that has already aired publicly, and recording it for later watching, and sharing with a friend or relative.

                      If I upload a self recorded program to Rapidshare and send it to my Mom, and she downloads it for viewing, that is illegal? But if I record the same show, and she comes over and sits with a bowl of popcorn in her lap on my couch, that is legal?

                      Go show me where it says any of this is illegal.

                    • sinfuly Delicious says:

                      @ojzitro: Think of it as… intent to distrubute. While the show may have aired… its not been licensed to be distributed. hence why the shows normally are not online instantly either. or straight to dvd. its about licensing. if you record it and show it to your mom at your place or even took YOUR copy to show her… thats one thing.. you had access to the original show. hence you have paid for it in some way. either by the commercials shown. or the cable fees that go to the network. BUT. if you recording these shows to send to copy and send to your mom to keep . who does not pay to see those shows……

                    • ojzitro says:

                      @sinfuly Delicious:So should I black wand (Men In Black style) my Mother, erase her memory, all in the name of Copyright? The intent to distribute is tied to PROFITS you shill.

                      When you take time to read the Copyright Law, and respond with a direct quote from it supporting your argument, I’ll retract calling you a dolt. Until then, you are a dolt, you have read nothing, and argued everything.

                    • JamieSueAustin says:

                      @sinfuly Delicious: So I DVR’d True Blood while it was out, later deleted it to make space on the DVR, then bit torrented it so that I could show it to a friend, who, because of seeing it with me now wants HBO.

                      Obviously I’ve done a great and terrible thing by driving customers to HBO because I didn’t pay for the privilege the second time around.

                      Copywrite law as it is currently expressed is woefully behind the times and unsuited to how people actually interact with their media.

                    • Ein2015 says:

                      @sinfuly Delicious: Alright dude you’re doing my head in.

                      I can hook up rabbit ears to my TV to watch free broadcasts, but if I record it and give it to my friends for free, I’m in trouble.

                      I understand the reasoning: control of distribution, yadi yada.

                      However, the point you’re missing is that the legal environment today was crafted by the same people wanting to profit the most they can.

                      Conflict of interests? Hell yes.

                      Many people who pirate will also purchase DVDs, shirts, see movies, buy figurines (I <3 my centurian figurine!), etc. These things generate profit and recognize who owns the show, who made it, and tells them “thank you.”

                      However, the legal environment does NOT determine the moral environment. I may be legally obligated to not bittorrent TV shows, but when streaming over the internet is too low-fi for me, what do I do? Purchase hi-def cable? CERTAINLY! I’ll gladly pay to watch about 5-10 hours a month (basically 1 or 2 programs I follow). But I’m not paying $50+ a month to do it when the 45 minute television show has 15 minutes of commercials interrupting me in the middle of awesome epic drama. No way!

                      /Morally/ I am doing nothing wrong here. Legally, sure. That’s why I make sure to leave as little of an evidence trail as I can. Block certain connections, always encrypt, use private, small communities, etc. But morally, I’m taking the high ground. I admit that I want to give back (iTunes seasons = FTW!), but when I’m addicted to a show I’m going to watch it the /moment/ it airs (or in this case, the moment it’s over and is uploaded to the internet) and buy it later. There’s no for-pay option that’s reasonable the moment it airs.

                      Just remember, the law is not always correct (marijuana laws, anyone?) and the conflict of interests in the whole copywrite and DRM laws out there are ASTOUNDING.

                      If I’m /legally/ allowed to make a copy, but your DRM won’t let me, then your DRM fails (it’s limiting my legal /rights/) and I’ll remove it. If that’s illegal, too bad.

                      Well that’s my rant for now. Cya.

                    • shifuimam says:

                      @sinfuly Delicious: if you record it and show it to your mom at your place or even took YOUR copy to show her… thats one thing.. you had access to the original show.

                      In that case, you should have no problem with people downloading network shows off BT, since everyone technically has access to those. Would it make you feel better if I had a little TV in a closet tuned to The Office while I’m downloading DVD rips of episodes off Bittorrent?

                      Your argument about licensing holds no weight. The reason episodes aren’t released immediately to DVD is because – gasp! – the season isn’t over yet! It’s gotten to the point where a season of a show is released to DVD only a few weeks after the end of the season. WRT online releases, those seem to be coming almost immediately after a show’s initial broadcast, unless you count the time difference between PST and EST as some kind of delay.

                    • Trai_Dep says:

                      @ojzitro:

                      If I upload a self recorded program to Rapidshare and send it to my Mom… that is illegal? But if I record the same show, and she comes over … that is legal?
                      Go show me where it says any of this is illegal.

                      Wouldn’t that be (re)distribution without a license?

        • JamieSueAustin says:

          @sinfuly Delicious: Some people (myself included) DVR the show while simultaneously bit-torrenting it so that in the event that the DVR cuts off the last 2 minutes of Doctor Who they don’t go mental…

          Oh wait… it might just be me….

      • varro says:

        @codepage9: Streaming tv shows with *one* commercial at the breaks like Hulu does is excellent.

        Broadcasting tv shows with 8-10 commercials at each break is overkill – after watching shows on Hulu, Netflix, and purchased DVDs mostly the past two years, I cannot sit down to a broadcast tv show (whether network or cable) any more. Too many fscking commercials.

        P.S. – my wife thinks the credit card industry created the “Feed the Pig” PSA so people *wouldn’t* save. According to her, that’s the creepiest ad in the entire history of tv.

    • Mr_Human says:

      @sinfuly Delicious: And somehow, I don’t think that Consumerist’s parent company, Consumers Union, would be happy to see this, and certainly not condone it.

    • Ben Popken says:

      @sinfuly Delicious: The mention about Bittorrent has been removed. Consumerist does not advocate piracy.

  3. MaelstromRider says:

    It is completely irresponsible of Consumerist to advocate using bittorrent to download copyrighted material. Regardless of personal feelings about whether or not it should be illegal, it /is/ currently illegal and should not be encouraged. At the very least, issue the standard disclaimer about not condoning piracy or other illegal activity.

    • jmhart says:

      @MaelstromRider:

      Yeah man, I was really confused by that suggestion. I think that might need to be edited out.

    • mackjaz says:

      @MaelstromRider: Consumerist is NOT advocating anything. This is just another story written by a member discussing what THEY do. Each of us knows what is right and wrong.

      It’s like saying consumerist advocates you being an asian woman who throws a major hissy fit because she missed her plane.

      • sinfuly Delicious says:

        @mackjaz: No… the story about the woman that missed the flight is about a woman that got upset when she missed her flight.

        This report actually referes you to programs and means of how download without any notice that this software could get you charge and sued by the MPAA for your activity.

    • Mary Marsala with Fries says:

      @MaelstromRider: It’s not illegal, dammit. Copyright infringement is a CIVIL infraction, not a criminal one. TOTALLY different animal, and not at all equal to stealing. Would you people read a source that is not written by the industry PLEASE.

    • Azagthoth says:

      @MaelstromRider: I understand the sentiment here, but not everything on torrents are illegal material. Nine Inch Nails RELEASED there last album on torrent. Things are changing.

    • shepd says:

      @MaelstromRider:

      Actually, BitTorrent is legal in a country just North of yours. Nyah! And yes, this has been confirmed by judges. Feel free to look it up.

      But only for music, right now. With the likely upcoming internet CanCon levy for internet TV, I’ll be able to cut the cable completely!

      And I’m not even depriving people of revenue, sinfully! Beat that!

      It’s just like when we were all pirating your DirecTV legally. Since nobody here could buy it, and DirecTV hadn’t bought themselves any judges yet, judges actually DID pass judgements saying that the service was used without permission. They required 100% full payment. As the value of DirecTV in Canada is $0 (and still is, although with the judges they bought, it doesn’t matter anymore) the infringers paid the entirety of their $0 bill and that was that.

      Interesting, non?

      As long as Hulu and other services are US only at the request of the companies that provide the content, it will be judged to have a $0 value in Canada. So, why yes, I do pay 100% in full for all of my free content.

  4. Coles_Law says:

    As with everything, your results may vary. I pay $36/mo for cable. If I were to drop it and stream video online, I’d need to upgrade my Internet plan (I’m on a basic plan with a bandwidth cap). That, coupled with the cost of “seasons” from iTunes and I’d end up worse off.

  5. moKosmo says:

    And to use itunes you’ll need broadband, which the author conveniently left out of the entertainment budget. Oh – that’s right – steal it from your neighbor! Nevermind.

  6. kidnextdoor says:

    Um…you never heard me say this, but if you have a friend who already has cable, just add a hd/dvr converter box for like $10/month to their account, plug it in at your place, and voila…if you give your friend $20/month, you’re both coming out ahead…

  7. 1stMarDiv says:

    I’m dropping my cable and downloading right away, and I could care less if it’s right or wrong. After seeing my nest egg virtually disappear due to the greed and incompetence of our government and Wall Street, I’m doing what’s best for me in these trying times. Lord knows I’m not getting any bailout.

    • Etoiles says:

      @1stMarDiv: And all the folks who are getting laid off from media companies, because ad sales are no longer generating enough revenue, aren’t getting bailed out either.

      • ojzitro says:

        @Etoiles: Those people are getting laid off because companies have no money to advertise with, not because 1st is going to download an episode of Dancing With the Stars.

        • sinfuly Delicious says:

          @ojzitro: Where you think they get their money??

        • Etoiles says:

          @ojzitro: Ad sale rates are based on the share of viewers that a channel can command.

          If people aren’t watching some kind of ad-supported or measured feed of the show — be it on-air, or via the website, or from iTunes — then they aren’t measured eyeballs and the media company doesn’t get ad money.

          It’s a big cycle, just like everything else in this economy.

          • ojzitro says:

            @Etoiles: There is a reason you see ads for Snuggie’s all over the place people, Major companies are cutting back advertising.

            Not making money, no money to spend. Has anyone paid attention to the economy? When the economy stabilizes, and people get to spending again, companies will pay for ad space.

            Are you two telling me that all the empty Billboards is due to downloading also?

            • Etoiles says:

              @ojzitro: Yes, major companies are cutting back advertising. That’s indisputable. But even Cash4Gold commercials are still sold adspace.

              I’ve no love for the cable companies. We’ve had an epic saga of displeasure with Comcast for months and I’d like to see the damn monopolies broken up and replaced with something worthwhile. But if one is going to use a computer for one’s TV viewing anyway, is it so hard to support a content creator by using their website or something measurable like iTunes, instead of BitTorrent?

            • ojzitro says:

              @sinfuly Delicious: From companies that aren’t in FINANCIAL STRAITS.

              There is a recession, advertising budgets for TV are being cut back, that’s why infomercials and big Pharma ads dominate. Big Pharma has a boatload of money, and people still love buying dumb shit. No bidding war for airtime, lower rates.

              My wife works in Advertising, they are slow because there is a recession, not because 1stMarDiv downloaded The Soup.

              The narrow scope in which you argue is very frustrating.

              • sinfuly Delicious says:

                @ojzitro: my argument is still solid. If i am downloading True Love and not paying for the network to see it legitametly then im taking money from the actors and crew and everyone esle involved.

                • Anonymous says:

                  @sinfuly Delicious: Your argument is not particularly solid. If I tape an over the air broadcast program, and then distribute *that* online, I’m giving the producers of the show exactly as much money as they got from me watching it in the first place, which is however much revenue they got from selling adspace.
                  The difference between someone distributing OTA copies and Cable/Sat feed copies is that the people distributing the Cable/Sat feed copies actually gave the cable/sat company money.
                  Your logic is flawed, in that the people downloading TV shows are costing the company on the other end exactly as much as the OTA viewers do, which has already been factored in to their business model, for quite some time.

              • sinfuly Delicious says:

                @ojzitro: I am ALSO costing others by forcing hbo to raise costs to recoup the difference.

                • ojzitro says:

                  @ojzitro: Agreed, but for now, there are very limited options, and the one that works best has been ignored.

                  Cable works by buying content licensing from studios, perhaps licensing individuals for a studio’s current portfolio is the route to go. I want to use their torrent swarm, I pay a fee. The problem is, they want to sell it to you through a cable company, and then keep it from you, because “it’s not yours”. It’s the VCR debate all over again.

                  They are afraid of losing control, when in fact they’ve already lost it.

                  • sinfuly Delicious says:

                    @ojzitro: vcr debate would be in reference to dvr and recording for personal use… that would mean you had the means to watch it on your tv… you just chose to delay it via a recording…

                    this debate is about downloading shows that you are not a subscriber for. therefor not paying for.

                  • Cyberxion101 says:

                    @sinfuly Delicious: Yeah, the debate is definitely about that. However, you’ve failed to illustrate how the two are so functionally different that the one is actionable where the other is not. You’re arguing morals and hypothetical situations that may or may not be rooted in reality. Give it up.

                • ojzitro says:

                  @sinfuly Delicious: But if you don’t pay, and borrow the disc’s from a relative, then that’s okay? You should of paid anyways, because be watching without paying, you’re raising everyone’s cost.

                  You’ve got yourself a Catholic argument, it’s holy. I’m done until you have a legitimate argument.

    • supercereal says:

      @1stMarDiv: Consumer could not care less about doing something that is questionably legal? Yeah — stick it to the man!

      Business could not care less about doing something that is questionably legal? OH NOES!!1 OUTRAGE!!11 EECB!! CLASS ACTION LAWSUIT!!1

      I love the hypocrisy that goes on around here!

    • engstewart says:

      @1stMarDiv: “I’m doing what’s best for me in these trying times.”

      The best thing for you would be to not lower your standards to the level of those who upset you so much. Your statement in quotes above indicates the same greed that you accuse them of. The current crisis was caused by greed at a national level, but in my opinion it starts with greed at an individual level. I’m certainly not perfect but I just don’t see how falling into the same bad habits we see in others makes anyone better off… no offense intended.

  8. slim150 says:

    Downloading from bit torrent is not a criminal offense. So stop calling it stealing. It is NOT illegal either.

    Uploading copyrighted files is what is illegal. Anything you’ve seen on the news about going after downloaders has been in CIVIL court for damages.

    No ones going to jail for stealing.

    • sinfuly Delicious says:

      @slim150: Downloading from bittorrent is NOT ILLEGAL. Unless the item you are getting from the torrent is. If you do not have a legal right to have that.

      There are alot of uses for the torrent tech.

      This is not the best means of it and makes it look bad to those that dont know the good uses of Torrent.

    • Rachacha says:

      @slim150: That said, if you download copyrighted content from a torrent and then subsequently help to FEED that torrent to other users aren’t you then UPLOADING (at least a portion) of copyrighted material which would then be illegal.

  9. jamesdenver says:

    I agree. I buy Lost and The Office as I want them, and I actually prefer spending $2 for a show that I can watch at my leisure, and without the ads and garbage all over the screen promoting other shows.

    To me that alone is worth it. Oh and I got all of Tru Blood of a torrent too.

    But if I canceled cable I would never be reminded of how great he Snuggie is.

    • c_c says:

      @jamesdenver:

      Why would you pay for those shows when they are streamed free and legally and in high quality?

      • Anonymous says:

        @cc82: There is a peace of mind associated with it. That being said, I wish more shows were available in formats for purchase that *I* could use. I personally refuse to even install Quicktime on my computer, so the Apple Store is off limits to me. I believe if you’re buying some show, you ought to be able to watch it whenever and wherever you want, on any device.

        Incidentally, buying a show is less than half the price of a cup of coffee, lasts about as long, and I’d dare say it’s healthier for you, especially if you manage to watch your show on a treadmill or something.

  10. Claytons says:

    The biggest hurdle for me canceling my cable is that it’s bundled in with my internet. I’m on comcast and they’re my only choice in the region for fast internet, other than some sketchy DSL companies. To be honest, I don’t even really like cable TV, but it’s essentially free with my ridiculously overpriced internet access, so why not?

    • orlo says:

      @Claytons: Bundling is an abuse of monopoly. How is that Microsoft gets into legal trouble for including IE, but Comcast is able to force its customers to buy an unrelated product? Soon they will make you get phone service too.

      • Claytons says:

        @orlo: They already send me about a pound of male a month trying to get me to sign up for their “triple play” service. Little do they know I haven’t had a land line in a decade.

        And screw monopolies and screw Comcast. The second Verizon or anyone else offers a competitive package for even a cent cheaper in my region, I am switching.

  11. Adam Steinberg says:

    I work out at a gym where they have a cable TV on each machine.

    I coordinate my bike time with my favorite cable shows.

    • youbastid says:

      @Adam Steinberg: This right here – this might be the only relevant piece of advice on this page. That’s a good idea. I’m so sick of hearing the “just watch tv on your computer!” bit.

      • lihtox says:

        @youbastid: Watching TV on one’s computer isn’t relevant? How so? It might be redundant or obvious, but it’s certainly a relevant option.

        • youbastid says:

          @lihtox: Replace relevant w/ practical.

          • dvdchris says:

            @youbastid: Sorry, I think the ‘it’s not practical’ argument is passe. Many people have their laptop screen open and are interacting via Twitter and IM and looking up info on what they are watching while they are watching it.
            My 66 year old dad is now watching shows on his laptop on Hulu. It’s easy to output that signal to your set. I know a number of people that just watch Netflix and Hulu output to their TV and have dropped cable.

    • nucleotide says:

      @Adam Steinberg: Most people with settop boxes ARE watching tv on a computer. Usually running some variant of unix. But your sentiment is right, most people are unable to set up a HTPC properly. I feel I have way more control of what I watch and when by using hulu, adultswim, southpark, tv.com, pbs.com, etc…. I have my DVDs, which I PAID for, copied to my computer. Which the asshat media companies also claim is illegal.

      I would download BBC and educational stuff, which I couldn’t get on cable anyway because most American’s are too stupid to appreciate decent documentary and science programs. At least the ones that don’t have some idiot harassing animals or spouting pseudoscience.

  12. jenjen says:

    Other than today’s local news broadcast, there is nothing on television that I find so utterly unbelievably awesome that I’m willing to pay cable rates to see it as soon as it’s broadcast. Yes, I miss a few water cooler opportunities by watching the Daily Show and Colbert online the next day (WITH ads, natch) but it’s not worth buying cable for. I am lucky to live in an area where I get 8 (English-language) channels with just rabbit ears and that’s plenty of local TV for me. Netflixing TV series works great and I can watch it on my schedule and I don’t frankly care if it’s a year or two behind. For me, there’s plenty of entertainment in the world.

    • Brontide says:

      @jenjen: +1

      I’ve been without cable for years with only HD TV and NetFlix. One our better decisions as we have saved thousands of dollars over our cable watching friends.

      • HogwartsAlum says:

        @snowmoon:

        You guys are both on the right track. In these times, I hate paying for TV but since I’m having so much trouble with my internet right now, I can’t give up my DTV just yet.

  13. ojzitro says:

    § 504. Remedies for infringement: Damages and profits3

    (a) In General. – Except as otherwise provided by this title, an infringer of copyright is liable for either -

    (1) the copyright owner’s actual damages and any additional profits of the infringer, as provided by subsection (b); or

    (2) statutory damages, as provided by subsection (c).

    (b) Actual Damages and Profits. – The copyright owner is entitled to recover the actual damages suffered by him or her as a result of the infringement, and any profits of the infringer that are attributable to the infringement and are not taken into account in computing the actual damages. In establishing the infringer’s profits, the copyright owner is required to present proof only of the infringer’s gross revenue, and the infringer is required to prove his or her deductible expenses and the elements of profit attributable to factors other than the copyrighted work.

    (c) Statutory Damages. -

    (1) Except as provided by clause (2) of this subsection, the copyright owner may elect, at any time before final judgment is rendered, to recover, instead of actual damages and profits, an award of statutory damages for all infringements involved in the action, with respect to any one work, for which any one infringer is liable individually, or for which any two or more infringers are liable jointly and severally, in a sum of not less than $750 or more than $30,000 as the court considers just. For the purposes of this subsection, all the parts of a compilation or derivative work constitute one work.

    (2) In a case where the copyright owner sustains the burden of proving, and the court finds, that infringement was committed willfully, the court in its discretion may increase the award of statutory damages to a sum of not more than $150,000. In a case where the infringer sustains the burden of proving, and the court finds, that such infringer was not aware and had no reason to believe that his or her acts constituted an infringement of copyright, the court in its discretion may reduce the award of statutory damages to a sum of not less than $200. The court shall remit statutory damages in any case where an infringer believed and had reasonable grounds for believing that his or her use of the copyrighted work was a fair use under section 107, if the infringer was: (i) an employee or agent of a nonprofit educational institution, library, or archives acting within the scope of his or her employment who, or such institution, library, or archives itself, which infringed by reproducing the work in copies or phonorecords; or (ii) a public broadcasting entity which or a person who, as a regular part of the nonprofit activities of a public broadcasting entity (as defined in subsection (g) of section 118) infringed by performing a published nondramatic literary work or by reproducing a transmission program embodying a performance of such a work.

    (3) (A) In a case of infringement, it shall be a rebuttable presumption that the infringement was committed willfully for purposes of determining relief if the violator, or a person acting in concert with the violator, knowingly provided or knowingly caused to be provided materially false contact information to a domain name registrar, domain name registry, or other domain name registration authority in registering, maintaining, or renewing a domain name used in connection with the infringement.

    (B) Nothing in this paragraph limits what may be considered willful infringement under this subsection.

    (C) For purposes of this paragraph, the term “domain name” has the meaning given that term in section 45 of the Act entitled “An Act to provide for the registration and protection of trademarks used in commerce, to carry out the provisions of certain international conventions, and for other purposes” approved July 5, 1946 (commonly referred to as the “Trademark Act of 1946″; 15 U.S.C. 1127).

    (d) Additional Damages in Certain Cases. – In any case in which the court finds that a defendant proprietor of an establishment who claims as a defense that its activities were exempt under section 110(5) did not have reasonable grounds to believe that its use of a copyrighted work was exempt under such section, the plaintiff shall be entitled to, in addition to any award of damages under this section, an additional award of two times the amount of the license fee that the proprietor of the establishment concerned should have paid the plaintiff for such use during the preceding period of up to 3 years.
    § 505. Remedies for infringement: Costs and attorney’s fees

    In any civil action under this title, the court in its discretion may allow the recovery of full costs by or against any party other than the United States or an officer thereof. Except as otherwise provided by this title, the court may also award a reasonable attorney’s fee to the prevailing party as part of the costs.

    • ojzitro says:

      @ojzitro: (B) Nothing in this paragraph limits what may be considered willful infringement under this subsection.

      Tell me this is not a slanted amendment.

      • sinfuly Delicious says:

        @ojzitro: willful… of free will. as in noone put a gun to your head and forced you to download it.. you know what you were downloading. was not deceitful either as in you thought you were downloading a windows update and ended up with lost season 1.

        • ojzitro says:

          @sinfuly Delicious: Did you even read the paragraph that was in reference to, or are you pontificating?

          • sinfuly Delicious says:

            @ojzitro: I was refering to Section 2.

            In a case where the copyright owner sustains the burden of proving, and the court finds, that infringement was committed willfully, the court in its discretion may increase the award of statutory damages to a sum of not more than $150,000.

            the subsection B only referes to section 3.
            In a case of infringement, it shall be a rebuttable presumption that the infringement was committed willfully for purposes of determining relief if the violator, or a person acting in concert with the violator, knowingly provided or knowingly caused to be provided materially false contact information to a domain name registrar, domain name registry, or other domain name registration authority in registering, maintaining, or renewing a domain name used in connection with the infringement.

            • ojzitro says:

              @sinfuly Delicious: Okay, I’ve read this again, for the fourth time today alone. But where is the verbage to support against sharing recorded television with others at no cost?

              There is none, it’s all tied to trademark……and….

              The definition is buried in here, which was enacted in 1946:

              [www.fda.gov]

              So…where is the language that prohibits me from Recording an episode of scrubs, and lending it to my Mother?

              • Opaquemurdock says:

                @ojzitro:
                “So…where is the language that prohibits me from Recording an episode of scrubs, and lending it to my Mother?”

                Well, no one is talking about that transaction are they? Lets be honest and fair. We are talking about someone recording scrubs and lending it to “everyones” mother. Now you may say “Hey, I can’t help it if I have 800 “friends” that all have a tiny bit of scrubs to share!” But oversimplifications like the one above when discussing file sharing don’t really help the debate. It’s propaganda.

                Let me ask you an honest question… Do you really think that just because the law did not keep pace with the technology and that the language is murky that it gives you the right to take something that was clearly produced with the intent of being sold and consume it without offering compensation?

                In my opinion, beyond the letter of the law there is common sense and an understanding of what is right and wrong. Now media companies have been ripping people off for years… we all know this. But just like the old adage says, 2 wrongs don’t make a right and I have allways suggested that the proper and more influential way to protest would be to STOP CONSUMING!

                Funny how that never seems to cross anyones mind as a possibility. Are we THAT addicted to the crap they sell?

                @sinfuly Delicious,
                I too have a friend who works in the film industry. He works very hard in the art department and some of the things he has to do would make people cringe. It is often backbreaking labor… but of course, people don’t want to think about our friends… its much simpler to assume everyone involved in making TV and movies is obscenely rich and worthy of our scorn. That makes it all OK. : P

                • consumerfan says:

                  @Opaquemurdock: Honest and fair? If the industry were honest and fair, there wouldn’t be a need for a site like Consumerist.com.

                  Another adage: All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing. Stop consuming and what do you accomplish? Do nothing and you’re accepting that what is wrong is right.

                  The proper way to protest is to protest. Better yet, find the deal that is acceptable to you and take that.

              • sinfuly Delicious says:

                @ojzitro: you seem to keep switching your story around… here you talk about LENDING TO YOUR MOTHER….

                theory 1: you have cable and on comedy central they are running a scrubs marathon. You record on your vcr and have 6 hrs or shows to share with your mother.

                unless you are stealing cable. you have technically paid for the calbe service, the show, and via some ad revenue, additional revenue for the show. showing it to mother while still a violation that can be found with some network agreements. they are still getting paid.

                theory 2. you do not have cable of any sorts. scrubs only shows on com central unless you use means that bypass any means of payment to said network or those in the lower ladder of jobs. the company is shorted and the company is shorted. the company then demands more money from cable to keep hosting companys.
                end result. i have to pay more cause cheap ass mo fos cant seem to understand that copying can still be a crime.

                if you were ever in college you would prolly know the term plagiarism.

        • lannister80 says:

          @sinfuly Delicious: So which studio do you work for?

  14. c_c says:

    Tell me how to get cheap live HD sporting events that normally air on ESPN (I know I can get network games OTA) over the internet and I’m in. Unfortunately there is too much MLB and college basketball only on cable, and I don’t want to go to a bar every time I want to watch a game (buy a few drinks and I’ve offset the savings!)

    • Tightlines says:

      @cc82: Exactly. Sports are the only reason I keep my cable, or I would’ve given it up a long time ago.

    • formatc says:

      @cc82: It’s a crappy option if you spent a lot on a state of the art home theater, but you could always go watch the game over a few beers at a corner bar. I know a few people without NFL network that do that on Thursday nights. I would too but Comcast gave it to me for free for no particular reason, and I’m not complaining.

      • c_c says:

        @formatc:
        But that’s the point, I didn’t spend $1500 on a tv just to go watch games in some smokey bar and be tempted to eat fried food. I’d rather have folks over to my place. Talk about saving money, I could spend 12 bucks + tip on three beers at a bar that would cost all of 3 bucks at the grocery store.

  15. bohemian says:

    The major broadcast channels really do no provide anything I find worth watching. Our local PBS stations do provide some content I find worth it but all three nearby PBS affiliates have dropped most of their british comedies recently. I am guessing to cut costs.

    I can’t find the shows we watch on HULU or the major broadcasters with the exception of The Daily Show the next day. BBC America can’t be found online in the US. The proxy hack to get into the UK version rarely works. AMC doesn’t put Mad Men on the internet and I have yet to find Showtime series online anywhere. I would be willing to pay to watch any of those online but they are not there.

    I do see some small hope in setting up a FTA dish this summer to get a few of the out of the area non scrambled stations. I still don’t know if that will be enough to cancel cable. But yea, 99% of cable programming is utter shit. The other 1% that we watch I still want to be able to obtain.

    • misokitty says:

      @bohemian: Mad Men and some British television and most of the Showtime series are on Surf the Channel.

      • bohemian says:

        @misokitty: Surf the Channel just refers you to torrent sites anyway. Or tries to sell you some crappy newsgroup software. No thanks. Watching it streaming is a 3×5 window doesn’t count either.
        I can find torrents without surf the channel. I was referring to an on the up and up way to just buy the content or view the content we want without having to get a premium cable package.

    • OneTrickPony says:

      @bohemian:

      Yeah, I think the non-cable alternatives like streaming and iTunes work well if you happen to have fairly mainstream (and youngish) tastes and watch mostly drama/comedy series. If you’re hooked on Lost and The Daily Show, you’re golden.

      But most of the shows I watch I’ve not been able to find available for legal download or online streaming (HGTV/DIY network/Animal Planet/Discover/PBS/Dr Phil) yet.

    • Sollus says:

      @bohemian:

      I have the same problem. All the shows I watch on tv are either from HBO or Showtime. It would be nice if I could just choose the stations I wanted for a flat rate instead of dealing with the bullshit that is Comcast Cable.

    • nycs says:

      @bohemian:

      Showtime and HBO shows are on iTunes. They’re not the current season but they want you to subscribe so they wait and release the full season around the same time as the dvd.

    • brbn_nattie says:

      @bohemian: I watch a lot of tv on sidereel (including Dexter from Showtime). I stopped downloading tv/movies a long time ago. With all the streaming shows available online I just don’t see the point. You may also watch instant streaming video of Showtime shows on Netflix.

      I’ve been without cable for 5 years and it’s really not that bad.

  16. ojzitro says:

    Harrumph….

    Thin the herd….let the crap channels go off air.

  17. gnimsh says:

    http://www.sidereel.com

    Not everyone owns a TV!

  18. samgmano says:

    Here’s how I saved $442 this year and will save $816 each year thereafter by getting rid of cable but still getting to watch the same stuff.

    At the end of this list is a breakdown of the hardware costs and the services costs. The services are broadband and Netflix. If you’ve already figured these two services in your budget you will save even more.

    I want to say first that this isn’t as complicated as it might appear. All you’re really doing connecting two boxes to your TV and following the guided setups. Feel free to ask me to explain anything that isn’t clear on this list.

    Here is what I did:

    Installed an attic antenna — Radio Shack has a very good antenna for $35 that picks-up all DTV signals in my area. FYI — DTV is really UHF. Don’t pay more for something because it says HDTV or DTV. If your house is already wired for cable this is easy. I unscrewed the Time Warner cable (no pun intended) and replaced it with my UHF antenna coax. Works great. My big TV has never looked better in Hi-Def. Go to Antennaweb.orgto see what channels you can receive.

    The next items require a broadband connection. I use RoadRunner thru Time Warner.

    You can get their normal speed connection for $35 a month for a year if you call and haggle with them. If you get an uncooperative rep, hang up and call back. You will eventually get someone that will help.

    Netflix and the Roku box — we continued to use Netflix for DVD rentals. They now have a box for $100 that allows you to watch streaming content on your TV. This is the same stuff you get with Netflix watch-it-now but now on your TV. You’ll continue to rent the most current stuff as DVD’s and use the box to watch A&E, History Channel and re-runs. We have rediscovered Quantum Leap and the Rockford Files.

    Pros – there’s a ton of stuff to watch and some in HD. Also works with Xbox 360. You can do this with the $9/month Netflix.
    Cons – it’s $100 and requires broadband.

    Apple TV — this is like an iPod for your TV and just as easy to use. The content you buy works on both (and your computer). Cool thing is everything stays in sync – the PC, the iPod and the Apple TV (i.e. if you pause a movie on Apple TV, the iPod starts where you left off). You will spend less buying content than you would paying for cable.

    This is great, especially for kids movies. They’re available on your TV, portable with iPod and they don’t scratch like DVD’s.

    Pros – easy to use. All your movies and TV shows are available on all your PC’s and iPods. Hi-Def.
    Cons – costs $239 and can sometimes be a little slow to respond. Must rent or buy movies and TV.

    Boxee — Boxee works with a computer or Apple TV and provides Hulu.com, CBS.com, Comedy Central and other sites thru your TV. TV shows typically appear the day after airing. There are a surprising amount of movies too. This is what we use most of the time now. Boxee.tv is the website.

    Pros – free streaming content to your TV.
    Cons – must be somewhat technical to get it working.

    UPDATE — some douche at NBC or Fox has forced Boxee to drop Hulu. When this guys boss realizes that NBC and Fox get their revenue from advertising, and blocking people from watching Hulu is counter-intuitive to their business model, this will be resolve.

    When all is said and done here is a cost comparison:

    Cable or Dish:
    $120/month x 12 = $1,440 per year

    compared to:

    1 time hardware costs:
    TV Antenna = $ 35
    Netflix box = $100
    Apple TV = $239
    Total = $374

    Yearly services costs
    Netflix = $204 — 3 at a time plan
    Broadband = $420
    Total = $624

    The first year would cost you $998 (hardware + services). Each year after that is
    $624 because you only pay for services. Like I stated earlier, if you’ve already figured these services into your budget, you get to save the entire $1,440 by cutting the cable.

  19. Vicky says:

    I gave up cable during a college budget pinch about 10 years ago and gave up broadcast television a few years later. I don’t know what cable costs these days, but I feel pretty confident saying that my decision to “temporarily” cancel cable back then has saved me thousands.

  20. shulkman says:

    Here’s an interesting thought for all the “bittorent is stealing” folks.

    I have free cable, as it’s part of my rental agreement. But I never turn on my tv. Instead, I download each and every show. So, The cable company still gets paid, and I get to watch my shows on my time, without commercials. So, who am I hurting?

    • Etoiles says:

      @shulkman: The content producers and the networks.

      Comcast can fall into the sea for all I care (I kind of wish they would) but a content provider — like, say, History or A&E or Discovery — gets sets their ad-sales rates based on their ratings. No ratings, no ad sales. No ad sales, no revenue. No revenue, no network. No network, no programming to bootleg.

      • ojzitro says:

        @Etoiles: And good riddance….it’s a horribly antiquated system to judge viewership.

        • Etoiles says:

          @ojzitro: Okay, then be productive and tell me a better one.

          • JamieSueAustin says:

            @Etoiles: I don’t know… maybe if I could buy content straight from the content provider… you know the whole 5 channels I watch on a regular basis. It sucks that I have upgrade my cable package by 15$ a month to get Sci-Fi, which is the main reason I have cable in the first place.

            Let us better vote with our dollars and you will know true viewership.

            • dragonfire81 says:

              Theoretically you could track how many downloads a show has gotten and measure interest that way, but what the heck does it matter when there’s no money in it either way. Even if 1 million people illegally download an episode of Lost, the network and the producers don’t see a penny of revenue from that.

        • sinfuly Delicious says:

          @ojzitro: you right.. cause no show is anygood unless its stolen

      • chrylis says:

        @Etoiles: The ratings system doesn’t work by having a camera in your living room and recording what you watch. shulkman’s not-watching on the cable line doesn’t affect the ratings in the slightest.

        • Etoiles says:

          @chrylis: No, it doesn’t. It’s aggregate. But it’s still, essentially, eyeball-counting. Statistical eyeball-counting. And for newer methods of distribution like websites and iTunes, it’s a pretty literal hit count.

          • chrylis says:

            @Etoiles: Your mention of “newer methods of distribution” is what I suggest as an answer to the last link in your chain, “no network, no programming”. We only have networks because until now aggregation of shows has been necessary from a practical standpoint.

            I personally would be willing to pay a reasonable amount for subscriptions to the shows I like if my money would get me a format that wasn’t crippled. But I’m not going to pay money if I can’t take what I’ve purchased and put it on my MythTV box, and as long as the networks keep trying to maintain their stranglehold on distribution (see the Boxee/Hulu mess), they’re not going to be getting my online business.

          • Repique says:

            @TonyTriple: You also lose the amount of time that kind of wandering can eat up, which can be considerable. It’s paid off for me before, so I know where you’re coming from, but now I watch new things because of recommendations from others.

            When I’m caught up on my favorite shows now? I stop watching TV. I don’t waste time anymore watching things just because I *might* like them. Yes, sometimes it paid off, but sometimes it ate up hours of my day for nothing. The overall usage of time wasn’t worth it to find a few good shows/movies. Now, I make an effort to go look for new stuff coming out every couple months, see what other people think of new shows, etc, but that’s a few minutes here and there, and it doesn’t require that I have cable. :)

      • sinfuly Delicious says:

        @shulkman: slightly the networks and those it pays.. as long as you are ONLY downloading shows that you would be paying for to watch and had access to.

        the topic of this OP was of canceling your cable or dropping down and aquiring the other shows you should be paying for throuhg…. lets just say… other means.

    • bohemian says:

      @shulkman: Ours comes with the DVR for free. We have started cruising the TV schedules and recording anything worth watching. I find some good shows during the day or late at night. So far it is helping a bit. We find during the early evening hours frequently the content stinks.

  21. runchadrun says:

    I want to know how one goes about getting basic cable for only $11.30. Is that just for the over-the-air channels? If you live in an area with reception case you might as well get them off the air yourself.

    • Kevin Mills says:

      @runchadrun: That’s what I was wondering. I know in the Southeast MI area, Cocmast charges like $50 for basic cable.

      Ah, the joys of a monopoly.

      • dreamsneverend says:

        @Kevin Mills: “basic” or “limited basic” is often offered by cable companies to just give you the local affils and a couple of other channels. This usually means you get between 16-25 channels not the “standard” cable which usually runs up to channel 99.

        Here in Tampa Bright House charges 9.99-13.99/mo depending on what promos are going on at the time. When I was between a jobs a few years ago I kept that limited tier just so I didn’t have to mess with rabbit ears.

    • Shrew2u says:

      @runchadrun: Even Verizon offers local TV/community/educational access channels for $13/mo in So Cal (and maybe other areas). The thing is, on their “See Our Cable Plans” page, they show the $40/$50/$60 plans in their own boxes…then toss in a single line about the $13/mo plan at the bottom of the chart. Sneaky, sneaky.

    • falc says:

      @runchadrun: i have Basic (non-digital) Cable from Comcast. i pay $11 per month for like 30 channels. all local major network channels, pbs, c-span, cartoon network, like 2 spanish channels and like 3 home shopping channels. plus we get the History Channel (for some odd reason). so our Comcast bill is like $56 per month. for cable internet and basic cable

      for the rest we use an AppleTV with Boxee and XBMC installed. we purchase some movies/shows to keep my wife satisfied. and don’t underestimate the amount of Video Podcasts in iTunes. the rest we stream thru boxee. there is PLENTY of content to choose from, you just have to be patient.
      Also, we have netflix w/ 2 dvds at a time and the Roku Box for watch instantly stuff… ;)

      sometime’s we’ll go for days without watching regular TV. mostly local news and the Today Show in the morning ;)

  22. TonyTriple says:

    The problem with this model is that you loose the joy of discovery. No, I don’t mean the Discovery channel, but rather finding something new or interesting that you otherwise didn’t know was on.

    For example, how many times have you been up late at night only to discover that some station was showing a movie/rerun that you hadn’t seen in a long time? A documentary that suddenly piqued your interest? A show/movie that you might have written off as crap only to discover that it wasn’t so bad?

    With these methods you have to know which shows you want to watch and when you want to watch them. What will you do when you’ve been caught up on all your favorite shows? What will you watch in between?

    rant over.

    • JamieSueAustin says:

      @TonyTriple: I think… after I watched all my favorite shows… I might would go read a book.

      • lihtox says:

        @JamieSueAustin: Bingo…watching television perpetually isn’t necessarily a good thing. TV on demand (i.e. Hulu etc) means less time spent watching other stuff “just because it’s on”, and that’s good (for me).

        Unfortunately, it’s been replaced by sitting at the computer perpetually, and that’s not really much better although perhaps a little more mentally activating. sigh.

      • TonyTriple says:

        @JamieSueAustin: @lihtox:

        Then why even watch TV in the first place? I think you both are missing my point.

        How interested do you think the populous would be in downloading something like a history doc or a nature show? The kind of stuff that could teach you something but you don’t automatically go searching for? This is the kind of content I see suffering.

        But lets say for the sake of argument, you come home from work on a Thursday. You’ve been caught up on all your favorite shows. You’ve seen every movie you wanted to see. You could read a book, but you’d just rather watch something (otherwise, why have a TV?). How would you determine what you want to watch? I’m just curious.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      @TonyTriple: I get what you’re saying, and to some extent, I agree. When I was younger, I spent my summers watching marathons on the SciFi channel and discovered a lot of my favorite television shows that way. I’m not going to go out and buy Highlander on DVD, but I appreciated watching 4 hour marathons on the SciFi channel during the weekday.

  23. dreamsneverend says:

    Hulu is a great step in the right direction and I have a friend who does trucking and he uses it to catch up on episodes of 24. I don’t mind a HQ ad funded streaming option from the studios/source and people should be more accepting to these options. Only with babying the networking monsters will we see all of our favorite shows available online.

    SUPPORT them when you can to encourage it!

  24. Geekybiker says:

    Copyright infringement is stealing, at least in the general usage. “To take without permission or right, especially secretly or by force.”

    Its just as plausible to argue the embezzlement isn’t “stealing” because it has its own legal definition.

    • chrylis says:

      @Geekybiker: Except for one major difference. If I steal something from you, you don’t have it anymore. If I embezzle money from a company, it doesn’t have it anymore. If I copy a music track, the original holder still has it.

      Regardless of the larger debate surrounding copyright, copying isn’t “taking”, and the Supreme Court has specifically ruled that copyright infringement is not theft.

      • Anonymous says:

        @chrylis:

        Legal precedent is only as good as the latest precedent. And you’re citing a long out of date case. Since then, members of the Supreme Court have definitively associated modern copying techniques with theft.

      • sinfuly Delicious says:

        @chrylis: but you are taking.. thats what you are not seeing. instead of you paying for the item. you copy it. you take money from those who deserve to get paid (im in no way saying that the labels are the ones.. ) but the ones that get hurt are the ones on the tail end. cast’s, crews, and customers that are paying extra to make up for the cost.

        but thats ok… cause you got yours for free. nevermind that mine now costs a couple cents more cause of it.

        • chrylis says:

          @sinfuly Delicious: No, “taking” means something specific according to the law, and copyright infringement doesn’t count. If I copy something, I’m not removing it from the person who originally had it, I’m making a new instance of the product.

          Remember that “copyright” isn’t a right in the same sense as free speech or freedom of religion, or even ownership of tangible property. It is a special monopoly privilege granted by the government, and it has limitations and restrictions. As far as the law is concerned (and I agree with it), nobody inherently deserves compensation when works are copied; it’s simply convenient policy to give them a means of obtaining it.

          Finally, studies have shown again and again that people who download media are more likely to purchase physical copies or related products. One of the mistakes in the line of reasoning that “copying=theft” is that it assumes (1) that every person who copied the item in question would have paid for it otherwise and (2) that nobody who copies the item first will buy an official copy later. I own many seasons of several shows I like on DVD; how many have you purchased?

          • sinfuly Delicious says:

            @chrylis: while that may be nice. you have also purchased it on a cheaper licensing deal than when you first aquired.

            theres original broadcasts, rebroadcasts, syndicates, and then the fun dvd sales.

            which do you think gets paid more… at what point did you own the works?

            you are one siding this done to the item you hold in your hand. you are missing the HARD WORK people put into the item you have in your hand. or on your hard drive.

            I have a friend in photography. He is unable to live on the means due to demands that his photo can be used and distributed AS MANY TIMES as they want from a buyer. at a one time cost.

            what would normally be a way of living with him has been reduced to a 50$ snapshot on the street corner.

            • chrylis says:

              @sinfuly Delicious: This is entirely an issue of business models. An assembly-line worker at an auto factory doesn’t get paid every time that someone drives (or even sells) the car she helped put together; she’s paid a fair wage for her work, and that’s the end of it. Why should a person who helped put together a TV show be any different?

              As for your photographer friend, a “one time cost” high enough to cover his expenses and make the session worth his time would enable him to use photography as a full-time means of employment. In fact, much of the work I do falls under exactly this kind of scenario: It’s a “work for hire”, which means that my customers pays me a fair amount to create what they need and then get to keep the result (that they’ve paid for) themselves.

    • superchou says:

      @Geekybiker: shocks me how people go on and on about how downloading content or music like this is not stealing. It most certainly is. I am really surprised this site posted that as a solution to cutting a cable bill.

      • lihtox says:

        @superchou: Those who say downloading isn’t stealing aren’t necessarily arguing that it’s not illegal, just that it is an act separate from theft. Theft is a crime which can affect everyone: if I steal your car, you’re outraged because you don’t have your car anymore, not because I have it. Theft deprives the owner of his property. On the other hand, if you have written a poem, and I see it and copy it down in my notebook for my own personal use, nothing changes for you– you might not even realize that I’ve done it. This type of copyright infringement does not deprive the owner of his property, it only deprives him of the opportunity to make money in a particular way. That IS illegal, but it’s not exactly right: no one is guaranteed to make money in a particular way, or to have that way continue to be viable in the future. Some companies used to sell web browsers; such a company would probably go out of business today thanks to all the free options. Was what Firefox did to that company “theft”?

        I think computer scientists are particularly insulted by this because (a) they don’t see that there’s much qualitative difference between the brain and a computer, and (b) they use computers and the Internet to do things that would have been done in person in the past, and they want to be able to do the same things. For (a): If it is illegal to have one’s computer memorize a song for you, shouldn’t it also be illegal to use one’s brain memorize a song? For (b): if it is illegal to email a movie to a friend, is it also illegal to loan a videotape to a friend? or a book? Are libraries legal?

        If you made it this far, I thank you for not writing me off as an apologist. Personally I do not use bittorrent and do not download music or movies illegally. But I do think that copyright law is obsolete in the current age, and needs to be fixed in a way that protects consumer’s rights.

  25. kwjayhawk says:

    Some internet companies still choke consumers on broadband allowances. There’s a cable company with a sunflower on it in Kansas that charges 29.95 a month for 12gb of data a month. $1 per gb over. Also, if you don’t buy a tv or phone package then that tier is 39.95. AND there is no other provider of cable internet in the city.

    Broadband companies need to realize that commerce, products, and income will be shifting online much like the popularity of TV over radio.

  26. chrylis says:

    @undefined: @sinfuly Delicious: I’m sorry, but you are simply incorrect about what copyright means. I have every right to record TV shows off the air or off cable; this is called “time-shifting” and was declared to be fair use by the Supreme Court in the Betamax decision.

    In fact, the studios want to tell you that even if you buy the DVD, copying it onto your portable media player is “stealing”, and the entire controversy over CSS had nothing to do with actual copyright infringement and everything to do with trying to make you buy copies over and over again.

    The purpose of copyright according to United States law is to encourage authors to contribute works to the public domain by giving them limited rights to profit from them. It’s not absolute, nor should it be.

  27. SilverBlade2k says:

    Putting aside the whole legal/illegal debate about downloading shows from bittorrent..

    Many people watch TV shows together, as a couple, as a group, whatever…unless you have a noisy computer in the living room, or have a popcorn hour attached, I really don’t see why you would want to watch TV from online. People (like me) don’t want to crowd around a computer monitor to watch a TV show..unless you watch alone.

  28. LaneFlying fox says:

    What a stupid *ss idea. What on earth would I want to look at downloaded crappy drivel on any of the 3 – 60 inch LCD and Plasma TV’s we have.

    DVR and 300 channels should address most issues. If you are an old movie person, then watch AMC etc. If you are a porno guy then that’s available also. And every show is now shown 2-3 times.

    But apparently some find solace in and are in dire need of complicating and making things as difficult as possible.

    • Munchtime says:

      @LaneFlying fox: Are you being ironic? The post is about saving money by reducing/cutting cable and still enjoying your favorite shows. Some people are trying to save money these days, which obviously you don’t have to worry about. This post wasn’t written with *you* specifically in mind, so you don’t have to download the “crappy drivel” if you don’t want to. If makes you feel better, I’m jealous about your 3 60″ TVs.

    • lihtox says:

      @LaneFlying fox: Why the hell would I want to spend thousands of dollars on a 60 inch plasma television to watch 30 Rock and House? HD seems a complete waste of money to me; I’m not interested in some guy’s pores or reading the article on the newspaper he’s carrying around.

      So it’s all about taste.

  29. sinfuly Delicious says:

    The one thins i TRULY LOVE in all of this… if anyone here has read the getrichslowly post… it does not ONCE list a torrent as a means in fact is even lists the library.

    This is all on Carey’s watch this seems.

  30. Kevin Weber says:

    Wow, sinfully delicious is getting owned in this thread. stop posting dude.

    • ojzitro says:

      @Kevin Weber: My argument is narrow, TV only, yet effective.

      To be fair to Sinfuly, I’m arguing semantics, but that’s all that Law was created to be. Loopholes sometimes work for the little guys too.

      • Xerloq says:

        @ojzitro: Just so you know, both you and Sinfully are partly right and partly wrong.

        I’ve taken two year-long law courses specifically on copyright, and I can’t say that I pretend to understand fully, and it won’t be explained sufficiently or settled in this thread.

        However, what’s spelled out in the law is important only as a foundation – the real meat and potatoes is in the precedent that arises out of court cases. That’s where the law lives, breathes and evolves.

        It’s also a lot easier to grasp if you take profit, revenue and money out of it (though that is the root of why copyright was created) and focus on the core principle of copyright – the right to control distribution.

        Copyright owners hold the rights to distribute their works however they choose – they can give it away for free, charge for it, or both. Consumers have a right to consume the work directly from the copyright holder, or a third party who has permission to distribute the work.

        That’s why providing copyrighted works for download is generally held to be illegal. The torrent provider generally does not have permission to distribute and is is infringing on the copyright holder’s right to distribution.

        Contrary to that, however, if you have purchased (or licensed) a copyrighted work (a DVD or CD for example) you do have the right to make a copy for personal use.

        You also have the right to time-shift – use a VCR or DVR to record a broadcast for viewing later. (The Betamax case is the famous example here.)

        Ultimately, the issue is very much controversial. The law is evolving in courts as we speak with the RIAA trials in the US, and the Pirate Bay on trial.

        The issue with copying DVDs for personal use is because you have to circumvent DRM to make the copy. Copying for personal use isn’t illegal, but circumventing the DRM is.

        chrylis has it right, in that copyright was originally meant to allow creators a limited time to profit from their work (by controlling its distribution) which would then be contributed to public domain for the benefit of society after a specified period of time.

        The original issue was that people stole works (maps, if I recall correctly) that no one would make them anymore, thus society was hurt. Copyright provided creators a short timeframe in which they were the only ones who could profit from a specific work.

        We’ve come a long way from that.

  31. richcreamerybutter says:

    Someone brilliant is going to establish the Emusic for cable shows. I shall be one of the first to subscribe.

  32. Amy Alkon says:

    It is completely irresponsible of Consumerist to advocate using bittorrent to download copyrighted material.

    Those who steal copyrighted material are no different from those who steal your car radio or your TV. A thief is a thief is a thief. If you’re a thief, don’t kid yourself about it just because you’re using your Internet connection instead of a crowbar or a tire iron.

    Furthermore, as somebody who creates copyrighted material for a living and is struggling due to newspapers going out of business right and left and freezes in acquisitions at publishing houses, I have to mention, the more people steal work instead of paying for it, the less able a creator is to put that work out.

  33. raincntry says:

    I can’t feel sorry for cable companies when they lose their subscribers. For the last ten years or so they have fought vociferously against ideas like ala carte and other ways for their customers to receive the service they want at a reasonable price. Instead they have continually raised rates while offering a marginally better product.

  34. Paul G. Brush says:

    There’s a lot of talk about “stealing” vs. “infringement” here, and to my mind, the issue has been settled as a matter of law (sorry, Sinfuly Delicious, et al, who continue to adhere to your woefully unproven argument). Furthermore, let’s consider the following:

    My girlfriend has just gotten into Lost, which is shown (for free) on ABC and streamed (for free) on ABC.com. When I watch the new seasons (for free) on TV, not one dollar changes hands. I am not part of the Nielsen Ratings datamining organization, so what I watch is not recorded in any way. When she wants to catch up on what’s she missed, she streams the show (for free) from ABC.com. To save her the time, and so she can watch the show on a larger screen, I have downloaded all of Seasons 3 and 4 to connect to her DIVX DVD player via external hard drive.

    Since the show is broadcast for free on both network TV and the channel’s own webpage, what is the difference if I download the episodes or watch them online? I’m depriving no one of any income, only making life easier for the viewer, and since ABC does not charge for the convenience of watching online or on TV, they will have lost no revenue from my downloading the episodes either.

    And don’t give me the argument that advertisers pay for airtime, and by cirvumventing the ads, I’m somehow depriving Coca Cola of revenue. I pay $60 a month for basic cable, and on every channel, except for PBS, there are ads. Heck, Comedy Central is basically broken up into 20 minute blocks of ads with a bit of programming thrown in.

    Before you tl;dr me, basically, the argument boils down to this: if a provider offers content for free (streaming video, internet or broadcast radio, broadcast TV), and has attached no dollar amount to the front end, then the content is free. Period, end of story. How I choose to receive this content shouldn’t be a legal or ethical concern. If I tape record a radio broadcast, have I stolen the songs? Absolutely not. If I break into Best Buy and make off with a pile of DVD’s, have I committed theft? Of course. If I download a DVD Screener from Pirate Bay, is that copyright infringement? Sure. If I download an entire season of a show that is offered for free from the producers themselves is that illegal or immoral? Not in the slightest.

    • Anonymous says:

      @Paul G. Brush:

      Why you are wrong should be obvious. A provider offering up free content on it’s website isn’t the same as you acquiring the same material from a pirate site. Anyone who has a basic understanding of how website traffic and advertising work in tandem should understand this very basic equation. Think about it.

      As for the legal end of things, unlawful copying has been defined as theft by the Supreme Court. There really isn’t much to add past that.

    • sinfuly Delicious says:

      @Paul G. Brush: You are leaving out one small yet important detail. When you stream. There are ads. and there are records of you watching to show online with the ads. therefor there are RECORDS and a demand that network can use to charge for those ads.
      You say they are free. so unless the network via tv or internet is not charging a commeercial or ad to be placed in between such breaks in the show.

      then you are right. HOWEVER

      if they are charging for the ad placements in the show. and you are devoiding those.

      now.. if you want to get technical. lets talk licensing.

      Rebroadcast licensing. Sindecate licensing. Dvd, Season box sets. has the show you just downloaded even been able to purchased legetimate???

    • sinfuly Delicious says:

      @Paul G. Brush: and on a further note. to quote yourself. “. If I download an entire season of a show that is offered for free from the producers themselves is that illegal or immoral? Not in the slightest.”

      Show me a letter or confirmation for any Producer that says you can do just that and I will say that you have won.

      • PalJamm says:

        @sinfuly Delicious: I respectfully disagree with your assertion. I use Firefox with Adblock. There are a whole lot of advertisements I don’t want to see. I decide what I see on my computer, not content providers. I own my computer, my TV, my equipment, and they aren’t going to tell me what I can and can’t view on it. I specifically didn’t sign anything consenting to being forced to view advertisements or commercials. Just because Big Content makes money on them, doesn’t mean I’m stealing if I don’t contribute. Obtaining shows that are broadcast however, are a moral gray area. If you circumvented copy protection to obtain the shows, is it illegal? yes. If I rip songs off of a purchased music cd and distribute them, is that illegal, yes. If I record shows off of the radio, or TV and then make a copy for a friend that missed it, is that illegal? No.

  35. Ben_Q2 says:

    I only watch 4 TV shows. TSCC (just came back on), BSG (ends next month), CloneWars, and Reapers (starts again next month). I do download them, but I also buy the DVDs when they come out. Why not trying to really save money. I do not see the point in paying $60 a month for those shows. When I can get any of them for $30 or under s season. Giving me the time to watch them again. The makers still gets their money in ways of DVD sales. So I do not pay for the ad, I’m not watching them so why pay for them?

  36. Darkkeyboard says:

    Late to the party.

    I think that the argument of stealing versus not stealing, has been done to death. Let me put it in another way:

    If it’s something you enjoy, why not pay the people who put all the risk into making it something? Actors, crew men, stunt doubles- they’re all paid by people with some money to invest in this venture. If you’re not paying them back, what’s the incentive for them to do it again?

    I think about Joss Whedon and “Dr. Horrible’s sing along blog” Yeah, they did it for free. But almost every person on that set did it for peanuts. They have mortgages too. And grocery bills. And while I’m not suggesting that Neil Patrick Harris will be eating nothing but soup soon, if his payment is nothing because producers aren’t making shows as much because of no income, why would they do it?

    What about Radiohead? When they put that album out on the internet for whatever you wanted to pay- a lot of people said nothing. Radiohead has costs. They put effort into it, they incurred recording costs, etc. Why would they record again?

    As for the over the air TV shows, well it is what it is. IF they’re not getting ad dollars to keep the shows on, they’re not going to do it for much longer.

    Just my two cents. It may not be a criminal offense, and questionably not a civil offense- but it’s not right either.

    • Plates says:

      @Darkkeyboard: Say that there is a TV show that you like, but in only airs on a public broadcasting station in another country. Would it be so wrong to download that.

      • sinfuly Delicious says:

        @Plates: technically yes. its not that it only airs in that country. its more that your cable co does not carry it… demand it or find a way to get it through LEGAL means.

        • Anonymous says:

          @sinfuly Delicious: What if there is no legal way to get it in a way you want and in a timely manner?

          Case in point, Japanese anime shows. Vast majority of anime fans in American (including me) couldn’t talk their way out of a paper bag in Japanese, and so they rely on either subtitles or redubbing to understand the show.

          Official subs and dubs usually take MONTHS to be released in America after the show first airs in Japan. That is an unreasonably long wait.

          Not having much experience with official subbing efforts, I don’t know how good they would be explaining jokes that don’t translate well, especially puns (such as “hentai” meaning both “changing shape / transform” and “pervert”). My guess is that there’s a more than fair chance that rather than elaborate on the culture quirk, they’d just smooth over it.

          And even if official subs are of comparable quality to fansubs, they are never aired on TV (eliminating the possibility of DVRing it), and only released on DVD, with all the region encoding and DRM crap that I don’t want to (and shouldn’t have to) deal with. If I want to watch the show on my IPod, I should be able to.

          Voice acting in dubs are often of significantly inferior quality to the original Japanese, and sometimes entire character’s personalities can be changed (In “Death Note”, the characters L and Misa give off totally different vibes between the dub and original Japanese). 4Kids is especially terrible in this regard, completely butchering One Piece.

          So, in this case, the legal options are A) unreasonably later than and B) of inferior quality to the the pirated fansub versions. What moral justification can be made not to pirate the material? How can I “steal” something that isn’t even offered legally to begin with?

        • richcreamerybutter says:

          @sinfuly Delicious: This would be much easier for the average person if they lived in any other country. In the States, you have to make sure you purchase a region free dvd player, or know beforehand that even purchasing one labeled “region free” might require a secret code in the menu options.

          Cable companies don’t really listen to the demands of a few customers with good taste.

    • lihtox says:

      @Darkkeyboard:
      I’m not saying I disagree with you, but I thought I’d supply some standard counterarguments, if you’re interested.
      1) The stealing vs. not-stealing argument is orthogonal to the question as to whether it is a moral thing to do. Trespassing isn’t stealing either. (“Hey, the act of my changing clothes is a copyrighted performance! Pay the licensing fee or get out of my tree!”)

      2) You’re actually arguing for a voluntary payment system (with a hefty dollop of shame to keep people paying), which a lot of the “copyright reformers” would actually support. But not every endeavor involving effort deserves compensation. What if I downloaded Radiohead’s CD, only to discover that it sucked? Should I still pay for it? Maybe I want to give them the benefit of a listen, but don’t want to encourage bad art.

      3) How much of that CD’s purchase price goes to the artists and technicians, and how much goes to pay for (a) advertising, in which the record companies attempt to brainwash you into buying their wares, and (b) lobbying to further restrict your rights as a consumer? From what I’ve heard, the RIAA gets a healthy chunk from each CD sale, while contributing very little to the art itself.

      4) Artists won’t stop creating art no matter how they’re compensated– for some it’s a compulsion, for others it’s a way to gain recognition, etc. If copyright law were revoked tomorrow, something would surely take the place of the current system. The transition might be hard, and we might lose some of the superstars who are in it for the cash, but art wouldn’t die.

  37. codeman38 says:

    As someone with some hearing difficulties, I just wish more online TV offered closed captioning. Hulu’s probably got the best implementation, and even then not everything is captioned (pretty much any cable show that’s not FX, and even some over-the-air shows, fall into that category).

    And on that note, why doesn’t iTunes’ TV selection have captioning anyway? The feature’s been available in the software for a while now, but there are fewer than 50 movies and no TV shows that are actually offered with captioning. It’s depressing, really.

  38. Paul G. Brush says:

    @Sinfuly delicious: Assuming you mean I’m “avoiding” the ads online, my answer is, “well, so what?” I avoid ads all the time. I walk out of the room when they are played on TV, I tune to a different station on my car radio when they come on, and when HULU or whatever streaming service I’m using displays them, I mentally tune them out or go in search of snacks. Are you suggesting that there should be some sort of Advertising Enforcement Squad lurking over my shoulder making sure I ingest the latest flurry of marketing schemes perpetrated by purveyors of erectile dysfunction medication and energy drinks? And what if I borrowed a movie from a friend, and decided to watch it with another friend who also didn’t pay for the DVD. In your universe, we would both be guilty of dodging some invisible law that prevents people from viewing content they didn’t pay for. I didn’t pay for the book I borrowed from the library either; am I depriving Don Dilillo of his fair and due income? Think of the internet as a gigantic lending library, and you’ll see where your argument devolves into ridiculousness.

    Furthermore, I needn’t show any letter or other permissions from the producer of said content saying that I have the right to download their content anymore than the people who watch Giants games from the boardwalk in San Fransisco for free have to ask permission from MLB. The stadium was specifically designed to allow passersby the opportunity to watch the games for free, much as ABC.com was designed to allow viewers to watch Lost for free. In both cases, it’s free content, as designated by their owners. I’m merely finding an alternate route to watching this free content. I’m not concerned about the intricacies of ABC’s licensing agreements or their ad revenue. If the manufacturers who advertise on TV can’t keep up, then maybe they should rethink their business models. By making Lost available for free on broadcast TV and free on their own site, the producers are tacitly proclaiming it “free content.” There are no TOS explicitly outlined in the viewing of Lost that state that I must sit glued to the screen for two minutes while Geico trots out another “clever” marketing gimmick.

    Someone else in this thread mentioned that there are too many worthless shows anyway, and we should thin the herd. I agree, and I think it should be carried further to the products sold sold using advertising on broadcast TV. I’m watching “The Unforgiven” on Bravo right now, a PAY cable station, and while I’m typing this I’ve had to sit through a Weight Watchers commercial, three skin care commercials, a yeast infection medication ad, (talk about missing their demographic entirely), a Join the Army commercial done entirely in Spanish, and a preview of some show about becoming a supermodel that I, or no one else watching The Unforgiven at 2:30 in the morning will ever watch. So, I’m paying $60 a month to watch a movie that is constantly interrupted by ads for companies that paid the station millions to air them? I’m sure some of the money goes to pay the distribution company its licensing fees for being allowed to show the movie, but I’m quite sure that, if we examined Bravo’s balance sheet, the majority would be pure profit to the network execs. This method of content delivery is flawed and broken and corrupt, and the sooner it goes belly up, the sooner someone can step in with a fresh new idea (you know, like a la carte cable where subscribers aren’t forced to have 13 separate channels showing Hannah Montana every 11 minutes). Either the networks and record companies accept the new paradigm and start brainstorming now or they are going to find themselves out of work, and a whole new generation of forward-minded upstarts will step up, willing and able to fill the void.

  39. savdavid says:

    Listen, when Comcast puts 1/2 their programming on dozens of Christian crap channels, home shopping crap channels and “home-improvement” crap channels and crap like the game channel, they are stealing my money since I don’t ask nor want this junk. I agree with anyway to get around that, even if you say it is stealing. However, lots of shows are free on the channels’ websites if you wait a week or two after they air.

  40. tworld says:

    I’ve never understood how the cable companies have gotten away with NOT having à la carte selections. I get a lot of stations that I NEVER look at, with a basic cable bill of $57.80 a month. If I could pick and choose just the stations I actually watch, I bet my bill would be lower.

    I have Netflix and pay $22.25 a month for four movies at a time. If you return one immediately after viewing, you’re rarely without a movie. I get full seasons of TV shows, documentaries, drama’s, comedies, anything, from the U.S. and every country on the globe. I saw a gazillion movies last year. Netflix is worth every penny.

  41. edicius is an acquired taste says:

    But that first suggestion would entail me having to install iTunes, which I have no intention of ever, ever doing.

    Hulu’s pretty useful though, particularly if I have some time to kill at work and haven’t caught up on my DVRed shows.

    • c_c says:

      @edicius:
      I second that, you’ll never catch me installing anything Apple on my computer again.

      Hulu and Netflix on the other hand, are fantastic.

  42. DadCooks says:

    So far the discussion has missed a problem with this iTunes and Hulu model–they both require a high speed internet connection (which does not come cheap).

    Plus more and more suppliers of internet connectivity are starting to use download caps (commonly from 100GB to 250GB).

    It is real easy to hit these caps downloading just a couple of HD TV shows a week.

    Also, while the ISPs will not admit it, they do seem to “throttle” internet traffic that is torrent related.

  43. Anonymous says:

    As a long time reader and BitTorrent user, I’m surprised to see this site make a recommendation for P2P apps.
    Most content on torrent sites (mininova, TPB, ect.) is unlicensed and therefore a violation of copyright law.
    It is therefor inappropriate for a journalist to recommend utilization of a technology so clearly against the law.
    That said, Media companies are able to determine the value of their IPs by controling distribution.
    BitTorrent takes control of that distribution model out of their hands, thereby devaluing their property.
    You cannot take a photo of the Mona Lisa in the Louvre, because distributing photos of the unique art piece dissuades people from going to France and giving the museum money.
    In the same way, d/ling last nights episode of BSG or Dollhouse deprives the original IP holder of advertising revenue and DVD sales.
    I do, however, pay my ISP +$70 a month for broadband I use to d/l my shows. If I couldn’t use P2P apps I wouldn’t pay for brodaband.
    It seems simple. Force the ISPs to pay a media licensing fee for broadband users, and save money a time of the Justice Dept.
    Really, the genie is out of the bottle. The distribution methods of the 21st century are here. Working on an outdated business model is their fault, not mine.

    The Consumerist should spend some time investigating this distribution model if your journalists are going to refer to it in a story. I recommend checking out TorrentFreak.com for issues related to BitTorrent.

  44. MrFrankenstein says:

    I think I can sum up this entire argument, very simply.

    There are ‘consumers’ – and there are ‘users’.

    The ‘consumers’ have some bizarre idea that purchasing things is ‘good’ and keeping things in ever-increasing quantities, is somehow of value – whereas Users understand that the object is to obtain and view the thing (in the case of visual media) and then move on.

    Given that perhaps a total of 6 Corporations control ALL television, radio, newspapers, and magazines in the USA – despite the appearance, to the ignorant and uninformed, of there being a “choice” – I think its perverse to be even bothering to whine over the issue.

    Six corporations control ALL media in America.

    Welcome to your alleged democracy.

    I think its a patriotic duty to try and hurt this tiny handful of Corporations profits as much as possible, and along the way, dispel the illusion that some here are laboring under – namely that individuals could be ‘hurt’ or ‘deprived’ in any way by downloading/pirating media content.

    • chrylis says:

      @MrFrankenstein: Not all of the media in the United States is controlled by a plutocracy, but the vast majority is. What we’re running up against is the fact that transfer of information, which used to be very expensive (e.g., building and operating a TV station), is now unbelievably cheap. The entrenched players have lost the comfy position they’ve held for so long.

      This very development that allows individuals and businesses to strip out the distribution middleman is also, however, munching away at the production side of content as well (see Wikipedia et al.), and increasingly we’re seeing individuals’ being able to take back much of the influence that has been the media companies’ for so long.

      That’s not to say that there’s a need to actively attack the media companies; they might be able to adapt to a changed world and provide a useful service, or they might just die off like the buggy-whip manufacturers. What we should be concerned about is working to rebalance rules like copyright to make sure that everyone, including the little guy, is represented.

  45. sumgai says:

    Cable companies are nothing more than content distribution companies just like record companies. Technology has made both record companies and cable companies obsolete, yet they don’t want to give up the reigns so we continue to play this game with consumers.

    Modern day content distribution can take place easily over the web = Hulu.com (TV shows) and iTunes (music/movies). There is no point in paying a cable company $100/month anymore. That is last century’s technology.

  46. Dave Mathews says:

    The problem with watching web sites on your TV is not necessarily the quality – that gets better every day. It’s the clumsy keyboard and mouse that you need on your lap. Consumerist’s Gawker sister site shows how boxee; a new(ish) type of media browser, or front end, organizes ALL of your media, local and remote.

    [i.gizmodo.com]

    And if you miss Hulu, which is temporarly legall on hold, the open source community has re-instated its streaming media on the service.
    [i.gizmodo.com]

  47. MrEvil says:

    Unfortunately J.D. is right, BitTorrent is going to be alot of folks’ only way to get certain shows until the TV networks and studios stop being tossers and offer more programming via Hulu.com.

    Any show I can watch on Hulu.com is one I don’t torrent. I HOPE YOU’RE READING THIS STUDIO EXECS!

    The TV industry especially is going to have to make a major shift in the way they conduct business. I VERY rarely catch my favorite shows in first run, in fact half of them I don’t know when the hell they air because I got so used to PVR/Torrents/Hulu. I think they’re going to have to come to grips that people more and more want to watch Television on their schedule.

  48. radiochief says:

    The Consumerist is no longer a Gawker Media site… But still– a great observation!

  49. Anonymous says:

    I did this back in October. I dropped the HD-DVR and digital cable, so I only have high-speed internet through the cable company. Best decision I have ever made. I took the money I saved, and got a Netflix subscription. Between Netflix, Hulu, and bittorrent, I don’t miss a single one of my favorite shows. I stream them all to the TV through my PS3. The only thing I’m lacking is the ability to watch my Tarheels play basketball. That’s really gonna hurt when March Madness rolls around. I guess I can always watch with the neighbors or go to a sports bar.

  50. vastrightwing says:

    Let’s not allow anyone to “own” any intellectual property since people will loan it out. Instead, you can only read a book and watch a DVD one time since you have a license to read/watch it one time. After you read/watched your book/DVD, you must return it to a properly licensed retailer who will resell it used at a “discount”. Libraries will have to be shut down. Music may not be played at levels more than 50dbu where more than one person can hear it. Otherwise you will have to purchase a “performance” license. Purchased software must have access tot he internet so DRM can monitor how many times you access software for periodic payments. Blank media (hard drives, USB memory, SD cards, etc.) will be taxed on top of all of this because everyone buying blank media is considered a thief (because only thieves need blank media). Copyrights should last forever. After all, there would be no incentives to create anything as long as the author can’t make money on it forever.

  51. lonebannana says:

    Or “DO WHAT I DO” and rent the whole season on DVD. Did that with Sopranos. Did that with almost all the seasons of 24. SO much better without commercials.

    Or Hulu, or whatever.

    (TRIED to watch LOST from the first season DVDs; couldn’t stand it)

  52. synergy says:

    Oh thanks for that link! I found a show I’d been looking for all afternoon which I missed last week. heh

  53. Hector De Jesus says:

    I know that being thrifty and saving money is chic right now but c’mon… I pay $45 for HD cable and an HD-DVR and another $35 for 6mbps internet. I have access to stream anything I want from Hulu or whatever and I can record whatever comes on cable and PPV. In addition, I pay $10 per month for a basic Netflix subscription in which I can stream unlimited movies to my Xbox in high quality. Oh… and there’s always Redbox for immediate gratification…

    So I’m basically paying about $100 a month for WHATEVER I could desire in a HIGH-QUALITY format to view whenever I want with no contracts. Sure, you can DL bad-quality, illegal torrents from LimeWire and crap from iTunes for about $30-35 a month… or… just pay $45 for HD cable with a HD-DVR for $10 more… WTF.

    You might as well tell people to buy VHS tapes again and tape things from the TV like we did 25 years ago… Hmmm… that would save some money!

  54. QuillanPrice says:

    don’t forget http://www.fancast.com