A Tentative Defense for Illegal Streaming

It is especially difficult for people who watch a lot of foreign films and shows to find things, so these people, anime fans especially, resort to using illegal sites.

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It is especially difficult for people who watch a lot of foreign films and shows to find things, so these people, anime fans especially, resort to using illegal sites.

Lancy Shi, Photojournalist

It is crazy to think that only a little more than a decade ago, cable TV was at its peak, earning millions and billions of dollars for companies all around the world. When I was in elementary school, I was considered one of the lucky kids because I had cable and could watch shows like iCarly and Spongebob on my big screen television. Since Netflix launched its official platform in 2007, offering viewers the opportunity to watch their favorite shows whenever they wanted with no ads, a slew of other companies have created their own channels to stream their own shows. Now, especially because of the COVID-19 pandemic, more and more people have been cutting the cable and switching to a monthly subscription to a streaming service. This not only strongly decreased the sales of TV, but it also caused a huge shift in the entertainment industry, as more and more shows can be easily accessed, and people don’t have to wait for them to launch at a certain time. Directors are making shows more suited for binging rather than waiting episode by episode.

Even though all of this sounds like a huge step towards creating a better viewing experience, there are still flaws to this new streaming system. More and more movies and shows have been moved around streaming platforms, which means that if I wanted to watch Friends, The Office, and Breaking Bad, all extremely well loved shows, I would have to pay hundreds of dollars just to be able to afford a subscription to all the services they are on. With the rise of streaming platforms, there will inevitably be a rise in illegal streaming as well. For example, not everyone has the luxury to afford 5 different services, so I might pay for only Netflix and Hulu and then hop on an illegal site to watch Wandavision. When asked about the use of illegal websites, Rin Perske (12) said, “illegal streaming is ok because of the high prices.”

Obviously, illegal websites are…well… illegal, meaning the producers, directors, filmmakers, cinematographers, and actors are not getting paid if you watch their show or movie from an illegal site. From an ethical standpoint, using these websites to watch your favorite shows is bad for very obvious reasons. Even though I am very well aware that this is a felony, I cannot help but feel the need to defend these websites. As someone who watches foreign shows as well as English ones, it is extremely difficult to find 90 percent of what I want to watch on the websites I am subscribed to. And what’s worse is that sometimes no streaming service has it, so I am forced to pay 10 dollars to buy it on amazon. Sometimes after a stressful day of school, I just want to sit down and relax with an episode of Parks and Recreation, but I can’t do that if I have to pay for a whole other streaming service. 

A question I keep asking myself is “Does it matter that much if I only do it occasionally?” In addition to that, I can easily buy merchandise from a show to support it. The creators losing one viewer is not the biggest deal in the world. Plus, entertainment is supposed to be enjoyable and relaxing, and corporate greed on top of this huge shift in streaming is making it increasingly difficult to still be entertained without paying a lot. After all, I am sure most YLHS students would agree that we all need a break from time to time, and it is extremely annoying when we have to ask our parents to pay for yet another service just for one show. In any case, no matter what you think about illegal streaming, there is no doubt entertainment has been getting more costly each year, creating a huge change in our lifestyles.