By now it’s old news that HBO’s hit series “Game of Thrones” is currently the most pirated show on TV (followed by the CBS comedy “The Big Bang Theory”). In today’s LA Times, Alexandra Le Tellier published a piece “If you want to watch ‘Game of Thrones,’ pay for it.” explaining how online piracy is not something to be celebrated, but rather an activity that ultimately undermines our art and those who toil to make it (not just the well-paid executives).
She calls out director David Petrarca, who’s directed 2 episodes of Game of Thrones, for his ill-conceived comments that the rampant piracy of the HBO series did “more good than harm” because it helped generate “buzz.” It’s a sentiment that has been echoed by others attached to the show. As I wrote in an earlier post, HBO’s programming president Michael Lombardo made similar tone-deaf comments recently in Entertainment Weekly:
I probably shouldn’t be saying this, but it is a compliment of sorts…The demand is there. And it certainly didn’t negatively impact the DVD sales. [Piracy is] something that comes along with having a wildly successful show on a subscription network.
Ms. Le Tellier argues that studios have marketing departments whose job it is to create such buzz and zeros in on the heart of the issue when she writes:
It should be up to the creators and stakeholders to decide how to distribute their programs for consumption and nurture “cultural buzz.”
Exactly! From my earlier post on Michael Lombardo’s comments regarding Game of Thrones piracy:
…a man with the stature and success of Mr. Lombardo should know better than to blabber on in such a thoughtless way about an issue, that for many filmmakers, cannot afford to be taken so lightly. Sure, it would be great if everyone had the reach and resources of HBO, but the fact is we don’t, and for us–no matter how you spin it–piracy is not a positive. The arrogance Lombardo showed in blithely dismissing piracy’s impact on HBO’s bottom line did a huge disservice to the many content creators for whom piracy negatively impacts both their bottom line and their livelihoods.
Ms. Le Tellier asks the question that so many of us do. If piracy is allowed to flourish unchecked, and even be celebrated by some, “What happens to art when artists can no longer afford to make it?” Her piece is spot on and I urge you to read it in its entirety here.