Game Of Thrones: Steal It But Don't Be A Wanker Justifying It

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Theft Of Thrones Theft Of Thrones

Justifying torrenting GoT is nothing but intellectual wanking for an entitled middle class.


Like many, I have had more than a passing interest in the great GoT streaming debate over the past few years. I'm fascinated by each incarnation of the theft rationale which bears the weighty but reluctant conclusion: 'it's OK to stream GoT'. These intellectual submissions become slightly more sophisticated each time – barely – but each ultimately fails the basic legal – and moral – test of theft.

Many protagonists have moved on from the Wolfie Smith-esque Foxtel is evil and greedy and therefore any rage against the machine/ people power solution is justified.

The nouveau-prevailing intellectual assertion is more akin to the 18th Century wretch who "steals apples to survive, sir. I had no choice. I don't like stealing but, really, I had no choice. If the system, God, the runes, something was fairer, I wouldn't, my lord, really I wouldn't." There's scope to add the optional two-finger salute of "...so go and get stuffed, Rupert - this is 2016".

The trigger for writing this piece was yesterday's privilege-laden, self-absorbed, widely-read 'Why I refuse to feel sorry for torrenting Game Of Thrones': a step by step saga of how author Mark Serrels really tried to do the right thing by paying for GoT.

"Illegal Torrenting". How quaint. For ease, I'm using the term theft.

He makes a big play of 'trying' to pay for GoT. In fact it's very simple – he could, in fact, you know, just pay like hundreds of thousands of other consumers do. Not difficult. Just a few minutes on the phone.

Quite simply, it costs $7.50 a week to watch GoT on Foxtel and Mr Serrels doesn't want to pay it. He can pay it. But he doesn't want to pay it.

Would he pay $5? $3? We don't know – he didn't proffer his price sensitivity threshold. And no doubt for very good reason. As soon as one coughs to being prepared to pay, say, $4 a week, these great, intellectual and philosophical tours de force for justifying theft are reduced to a lousy $3 ball game. Thereafter, arguments for the defence quickly turn to custard.

Foxtel is certainly financially out of reach for some, but it's not difficult to acquire as Mr Serrels went to great lengths to assert.

And so, as with the majority of justifiers, the rationale for theft needs to be finessed, shrouded and layered in emotive constructs. In his piece, Serrels draws upon all of: abysmal customer service, sub-standard platforms (Foxtel Play), high pricing and low-quality streaming. I'm happy to enter all of the above into evidence, and for the record I'm no fan of the Murdoch machine and its pervasive global legacy. But none of it stands any genuine scrutiny – unless the the scrutinisers are entitled middle class wankers.

It's also worth noting here the much-maligned Murdoch Foxtel is actually 50% owned by Telstra. But that necessary disclosure seldom gets an airing as justifiers can't wrap their lips – or pen – around that nugget with nearly as much emotively-loaded venom as invoking the Murdoch name.

But just as Maslow identified a (exceptionally more worthwhile) hierarchy of needs, there is a moral hierarchy in western society. It's fact as clear as hi-definition incest in your living room that under our society's rules none of the tenuous (read bogus) rationales put forward for illegal downloading – anywhere, ever – trumps the act being theft.

For those unaware of how the free market works, HBO – the makers of GoT – can make whatever programme(s) they like. They can invest as much or as little making it as they please. And they can sell it (or not) to whomever for as much or as little as they please. Ditto Foxtel. All legal and all part of the fabric of our western commercial way of life. Yes, 'commercial'. At this point, it might surprise some to learn GoT is not, in fact, a basic staple for survival that's deemed necessary to be affordable to everyone.

If you don't like the system, there are many societies to which to move which offer a mouth-watering array of alternatives, such as grey, one-size-fits-all communism or trading vegetables in tax-free – and largely regulation-free – arable produce economies.

I have no personal crusade against the theft. I'll even cop to having transgressed the seventh commandment myself in earlier life.

So by all means steal all the riches of Westeros. Or just Season 6. Do it either with the stealth of Littlefinger or abetted by as many dragons as you care to invoke, but don't be a monumental, intellectual tosser in trying to morally justify stealing it. Otherwise you're simply playing with your, or The King's, Hand.

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