The Convenience of File Sharing

Following on from Wired’s revelation that less than 24 hours after the season première of Prison Break its torrent was downloaded almost one million times, Lifehacker asks its readers, is file sharing just more convenient?

Prison Break fans didn’t have to download the show illegally. The show is readily available to stream legitimately on both Hulu and Fox.com, where viewers have to sit through a few commercial breaks, but they can still watch the entire episode legally.

The fact that one million people downloaded the show within 24 hours — a little less than one-sixth of the 6.5 million people who watched Prison Break on TV on Monday night — proves, though, that P2P isn’t going away just because there are legal alternatives now.

Why is this? Wired writer Betsy Schiffman argues it’s because file-sharing is habitual and convenient.

The obvious comments ensue: ownership, on-demand access, unadulterated shows (no advertising), the list goes on… but people seem to miss another serious point.

Hulu, Fox, and countless other sites that allow users to legitimately watch shows online are only available to those within the United States. Of those one million people who downloaded the show in its first 24 hours, I’m willing to bet a very large proportion were from outside the US. And yes, I know there are countless ways to bypass these restrictions, but why should I have to take extra measures to do so? After all, Mininova and Pirate Bay are available to anyone, anywhere.