Telcos are restricting The Americans, Game of Thrones and other shows from streaming.
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With the continuing revelations of the links between U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration and Russia, there isn’t a more timely piece of entertainment than The Americans. Set in the 1980s, the hit TV show follows the exploits of two Soviet spies posing as a couple of regular citizens living in the United States.
If you’ve got cable, you can follow Phillip and Elizabeth Jennings and see how their stories ironically match up with what’s going on in the news. However, if you’ve cut the cord and only do streaming, you’re out of luck.
The Americans was one of the big shows featured on Shomi, the streaming venture from Rogers and Shaw that shut down back in November. While some of the content licensed to Shomi has popped up on Netflix, The Americans is still missing in action.
A spokesperson for Rogers could not say how long the license for this particular show will continue to be tied up. Given its hotness and particular relevancy, it’s a shoo-in to pop up on Netflix or CraveTV just as soon as it becomes available. Until then, it’s Bittorrent for anyone who wants to keep up.
The example shines a particular poignancy on a report last week from the International Intellectual Property Alliance, which urges Trump to crack down on Canada for online piracy. The IIPA is a group of seven trade associations including the Motion Picture Association of America and the Recording Industry Association of America.
Canadian law enforcement is “almost completely unengaged in criminal enforcement against online piracy of any kind,” which is why the country remains on the IIPA’s 16-country watch list, the report says.
The authors go on to note that several large-scale piracy operations are based in Canada and that a large number of set-top boxes that allow access to pirated content are sold here. The IIPA thus wants Trump to urge stronger consumer copyright laws in Canada.
Contrasting the report are recent numbers from broadband equipment maker Sandvine, as presented by Netflix, which confirm the expected – that piracy goes down as legal options proliferate.
According to the Netflix/Sandvine numbers, Netflix accounted for 37 per cent of peak internet download traffic in 2015, up from 21 per cent in 2010. Bittorrent, meanwhile, declined over the same time, making up 3 per cent of traffic in 2015, down from 8 per cent in 2010.
That jibes with more official findings. The Australian film industry, for one, in 2015 estimated that piracy had declined by 29 per cent from 2014 thanks to a host of new legal streaming services. Britain’s Intellectual Property Office last year found piracy to be at record lows thanks to Netflix, Spotify and others.
In light of that, the best action U.S. officiales could take wouldn’t involve urging tougher copyright laws for consumers, but rather stricter rules for those licensing the content.
A “use it or lose it” clause that prevents companies from hoarding content streaming rights – like Rogers is doing with The Americans or Bell continues to do with HBO shows such as Game of Thrones – would do far more good in reducing piracy than rules that further threaten consumers.