Toronto Life - The Informer

Insider intel on the politics and personalities shaping the city. Sign up for Preview newsletter for weekly updates



Honour among thieves: the only way to get the best selection of television shows and movies is to steal them

(Image: Andrew B. Myers)

My wife and I have cut the cord. Instead of a cable TV subscription, we have a laptop, which is connected to our flat screen LCD television, which we control while lying in bed with a little remote I bought for $19 at the Apple Store. Through this clunky rig we plow through entire seasons of HBO shows in mere days. We watch new episodes of 30 Rock, minus the ads, on the night they air. When we watch a movie, it’s often a new release, still playing in theatres. Sometimes we watch a movie weeks before it hits theatres. If a friend recommends an obscure old film to me over a beer, I’ll look it up on the spot with my Android. Then, with a touch of my finger, it will be waiting for me at home, in high definition.

You may consider me to be a pirate who refuses to pay for his entertainment. That would be half-right. I do pirate the things I watch, but I also pay for them. I just pay the wrong people.

Each month, a U.S.-based company called Giganews charges $14.99 to my Visa card. This fee allows me to access something called Usenet (an online network similar to e-mail or Web forums), which sends me video files at blistering download speeds. I used to avoid piracy, mostly because it was inconvenient. Speed and selection were spotty, files would arrive grainy or in low resolution or with Norse dubbing. But the files I get through Giganews are carefully labelled and the selection is vast. I can even subscribe to my favourite shows so they’ll download automatically. The result is nothing short of amazing—a personalized television service that lets me watch exactly what I want at any time I like and on any screen I own. I no longer watch lousy shows just because they happen to be on.

Giganews isn’t exactly illegal, but it isn’t exactly legit either. It relies on the “common carrier” defence, meaning it’s merely the conduit through which users connect to a public archive where anyone can upload or download whatever they want—mostly copyrighted material. One thing I can be sure of: Giganews doesn’t share my money with the people who make the things I watch.

If they did, I’d be willing to pay more. In fact, I’d pay double. Maybe even triple, just so that if I ever met Tina Fey in person, I could look her in the eye with a clear conscience. But no legitimate service offers what Giganews offers—for any price. If I signed up for the best cable TV package Rogers provides, which costs $169.84 a month, I would get access to less content, and I would wait longer to get it—no more watching a movie at home while it’s still in theatres. The only way to get the largest selection, the highest resolution, the fastest downloads and the newest releases is to steal.

Now, if I were living in the U.S., I would have access to legitimate services like the ad-based TV and movie site Hulu, and for-pay services like Amazon Video on Demand, Blockbuster on Demand, iTunes TV rentals, and the original version of Netflix, which offers a healthy selection of shows and movies. Between a Netflix subscription and various rental fees, an American with my viewing habits can sidestep cable, without becoming a criminal, for about $30 a month. But in Canada, all of these video services are “geoblocked”—visitors with Canadian IP addresses are weeded out and denied access. We now have a Canadian version of Netflix, but its library is a poor cousin of the original, with less desirable shows that tend toward the obscure (fans of Animal Planet’s River Monsters are in luck). Canadians are unable to rent TV episodes from iTunes, and instead must “buy” them at three times the price (Americans can watch this week’s Simpsons for 99 cents; we pay $3.49). Our own TV networks offer some streaming video online, but not much, and always through their decidedly lousy and hard-to-navigate Web sites. Again: if we want to have the most current and convenient selection, we have to steal it.

So why can’t we get decent, legitimate Internet-based TV in Canada? The big telecom companies blame the sorry situation on licensing complications. Securing the digital rights for the Canadian market is a slow and costly process, but if we’re patient, they say, Canada will catch up eventually.

The truth is, there is little incentive for Canada’s television industry to get with the times. Canadian broadcasters choose to lag behind, and deliberately sit on the digital rights that are often thrown in by distributors who sell them broadcast rights to movies and TV shows. After all, why should a station like CityTV help Canadians watch 30 Rock on demand via a $7.99 Netflix-like subscription when we could watch it through a $64 cable subscription to Rogers, its parent company? Why not instead shun and starve upstarts like Netflix, or, better yet, actively sabotage them?

Recently, Rogers did just that. Two days after Netflix Canada was announced, Rogers drastically lowered customers’ monthly download caps. A popular plan offering 25 gigabytes of data was cut back to 15 gigs (roughly eight hours of HD video streamed through Netflix). By contrast, the giant American Internet provider Comcast provides 250 gigs under its cheapest plan. So while Netflix may seem a bargain to Canadians at $7.99 a month, if you’re on a 15-gig plan, once you’ve watched four movies you’ll pay $8 or so more per movie in “overage” fees—twice what it might cost you to rent a DVD. This could easily kill Netflix in Canada before it gains a foothold, and scare potential newcomers away from our market permanently. These are the kind of things that happen when your broadcaster and your cable company and your Internet provider are all the same guy. In a word, the problem in Canada is competition—or, more accurately, our lack of it.

  • Kim Kelln

    Ha! The US already considers us a “rat’s nest of thieves and bootleggers, a pirate’s haven like China and Pakistan”, so we might was well take advantage of our reputation. Just sayin’

  • Krash Coarse

    Bravo Jesse! Took the words right out of my brain. I cut my cable in Oct 2009. I tend to watch podcasts and stream video from the crappy TV-network websites, rather than watching illegally obtained material, but I’m not above it. Our household generally “tries out” shows by pirating a few episodes; if we like it, we tend to go buy it on DVD. We just cut out the middleman.

  • Quentin

    Well Jesse, at least you acknowledge that what you’re doing is stealing. Most pirates won’t even do that. But your argument is really just a sad attempt to justify your theft.

    Are you really surprised that the movies in theatre are not available on Netflix? Please.

  • Moderate

    “Consider you a pirate”? No – you are. Buying stolen goods is illegal in Canada. No different than buying stolen DVDs displayed on a blanket. Someone stole a thing of value belonging to someone else, then you bought it from him. True the deals are better in the US but that is ZERO moral justification. Lots of things are better deals in the US but you wouldn’t condone buying those off the back of a truck I’m sure (at least I hope not).

  • Amy

    Do you realize that the real victims of your civil disobedience will be creators? The thousands of people who work in the domestic film and television industries in Canada? The telecoms won’t be hurt by this. Just the independent filmmakers and documentary producers who can no longer get financing for their work because there’s no return on investment in Canada. Oh, and the huge ecosystem of professionals who work on their projects. Way to go.

  • schan2011

    You are a pirate. Actually you’re a thief. What if another writer took this article you wrote, sold it to another publication under his/her name and then made money off it, without a cent going to you – would that be ok? Even if it was ‘inconvenient’ for the other writer to write his/her original story? I’m deeply appalled that one creator would blatantly use, in an unauthorized manner, another creator’s work. I’m even more disturbed that Toronto Life let this article be published. I’ll be re-thinking my subscription.

  • Twinkie

    wow, a blazing display of smug self-satisfaction … a blatant disregard for compensating the artists responsible for the content which Mr. Brown consumes … maybe he’ll never meet Tina Fey and need to hang his head in shame, but perhaps colleagues at the CBC might want to stare him down in the hallway. pathetic.

  • razmataz

    I agree fully with this article. Telecom in Canada is a disaster, it is overpriced and offers incredibly poor service. I am not surprised that the author has turned to piracy. As he mentions, he’d be willing to pay if the services were actually available. Giving in to Rogers and Bell won’t solve the problem!

  • Rich

    Wow. Openly advocating theft in Toronto Life. Very disappointing and more that a little disturbing.

  • Carter

    What is sad is that the writer outlines exactly how he is stealing and yet Canada’s laws for the protection of digital intellectual property are so outdated there is nothing that can be done to stop him.

  • cabma

    You said it yourself, you are a thief. Regardless of what is being stolen, stealing is stealing. And stealing is illegal. The logic you use to justify your actions is pathetic. You may equate stealing movies and TV shows with stealing a few jelly beans, but I highly doubt the creators of that content would agree. I know I don’t. In my mind, a life or death situation is the only thing that might legitimately justify stealing. I would hardly call your need to watch the newest episode of 30 Rock at the same time it is airing, but without commercials, a life or death situation.

  • Stephen Coady

    I applaud you for admitting that you and your wife are thieves. Using your logic, I am going pick a restaurant from the Toronto Life guide, take my wife out for dinner and skip out on the bill.

  • nihir


    Great opinion piece. I don’t think what you’re looking for will ever be permitted by the companies who own the content. Simplifying access to content is key.

    Live Shows (eg.Awards, Sports, etc) are still difficult to deal with outside of Cable’s grasp. But, adding a free OTA dish to your set-up and using Windows Media Centre as the primary interface gives you a little more access at minimal extra cost (only setup costs.)

    Oh, and you might want to try Newshosting. Reliable, fast, 30 connections, $5 cheaper per month.

  • Jeff Rogs

    This is a crazy article. Suggesting it is ok for people other than those directly involved in the creation to profit from online sales. I understand the perspective. We have all heard the cliche of a spoiled rich kid saying “I want a pony and I want it now”. I guess this guy is just so spoiled by a wonderful selection of amazing pieces of art that he feels he owns it already and is fine with paying third parties for delivering him what is not available. Even if those third parties are committing cutting out the artist. It floors me that everyone wants to cut out the record company because they are “going to rip off artists”. In watching this debate rage I see that this clown is ripping off artists and creators. It seems to me that the only group who has protected rights of creators are labels and film distributors. They take a cut and pay a cut. With streaming movie sites Google sells and ad and keeps all the money for themselves. Is at somehow cool with us?

  • Alexavla

    I think this is an interesting dilemma caused by a lack of clear up to date laws in Canada. We need legitimate ways to get copyrighted material that pay the rights holder and we need laws to back that up. But ISP’s in Canada do have a huge amount of control and are pushing out legitimate competition but I don’t think piracy is the answer.

  • CBM75

    Brown, stealing is stealing no matter how you attempt to justify it. Just come out and say you don’t want to pay creators for their hard work. Very tired of hearing the confused rants those who are cheap and do not want to support culture and creative achievements. Toronto Life – what are you doing publishing this garbage. You just lost a ton of credibility. Furthermore, you JUST LOST MY AD DOLLARS! My brands will go elsewhere now!

  • shannon

    So, um, did you get paid to write this article, Jesse? Pretty sure if Toronto Life copied a blog post, promoted it as theirs, and profited on the back of your hard work, you’d have beef. Might not want to throw stones from inside your glass house. Just sayin’.

  • MG

    A self-centered thief with a enormous sense of entitlement is all you are Jesse. A ‘writer’ giving money to people who could care less about artists. I hope this karma bites you back and you are plagiarized many times over with no recognition.

    Is your life really that mundane that you ‘need’ the latest in television and movies on a constant basis that you resort to stealing from fellow workers in the media/entertainment business?? I can bet your wife isn’t too happy in the bedroom with your small screen obsessions that’s for sure.

  • DFS

    Promoting and supporting piratcy (ie. theft) is not the solution. Of course distributions markets will continue to evolve, but promoting piracy as providing a valid impetus to this transformation is absurd.

    When you write “at a certain point, piracy just isn’t worth the effort to most” you reveal your own lack of understanding about what piracy has become today. Problem is piracy today requires NO EFFORT save one search via Google. Ever been to a cyber-locker site like This site, and a myriad of others, offer streams of entire films in HD with one click of the mouse for FREE. Who profits in this scenario? The pirates and their corporate enablers (ie. ad providers like Google’s AdSense). Who doesn’t make a dime? Those who created the content.

    If piracy (and the profits generated from piracy) are allowed to thrive un-checked we will eventually find a world filled with lousy and limited content. Sure the studios will continue to produce films like the remake of the remake of the remake—titles that are assured of good theatrical profits. The films that are riskier, directed toward a more limited audience, and those made by indie filmmakers won’t be made.

    In addition to the content creators, think about all the people who work behind-the-scenes to make these productions. Those are people whose livelihoods depend on work in this industry. Piracy theft hurts their ability to earn a living as well.

    Like their brick and mortar brethren, black market bootleggers have moved online. There, they’ve discovered that they can create a business with very little risk, practically no overhead, and potentially much reward.

    It’s time for reasonable people to come together to figure out a way to protect the livelihoods of those who create content and those that consume content. If nothing is done it’s ultimately the consumers who will lose out as diversity in quality content available diminishes.

    There isn’t one simple solution, but, if we work together, we can create an environment in which creators and consumers can find common ground.

  • Rogers Sucks

    Word to the wise: Do yourself a favour and download Breaking Bad for free on Pirate Bay.

    Best. Show. Ever.

  • Doug

    @Rogers Sucks – You like the show… so why not support the creators of it instead of stealing it like a parasite? If you want more shows to be made like that, show there is a market for it.

  • KC

    Seems the Rogers’ PR staffers are hard at work posting comments…yeah, yeah, you’re just concerned citzens.

  • Joe G

    If you’d actually read the whole article, you might note Jesse offered a solution. If we had access to the same content in the same formats through the same channels at the same prices as the US market, this piracy would be greatly diminished. You’re blaming the consumer when the Canadian distributors have erected overpriced tollbooths to access the marketplace.

    I for one, cut my cable 2 years ago because I was tired of paying $45+ dollars just to watch ten hours of TV a week.

  • Paul

    I have to agree with your view Jesse.
    I no longer have Cable TV. This isn’t about being spoiled, this is about being ripped off. I’m tired of being “stolen” from by Rogers, etc.

    I try not to pirate my shows. I have a Netflix subscription. I try to keep within this, but it’s hard. Especially when netflix lists the stuff I want to watch as “not available”. I know it’s because of our poor competitive market.

    “These are the kind of things that happen when your broadcaster and your cable company and your Internet provider are all the same guy.”

    Blame our lame government and the CRTC for that one.

  • Peter

    Jesse isn’t trying to re-sell these shows and pass them off as his own. It’s more like you reading his article for free on the web instead of buying the magazine. Oh, wait…

  • brianary

    Copying is not stealing. It does not deprive the original owner of anything.

    Civil disobedience of artificial scarcity enforcement is not theft.

    Copyright elevates the grasshopper over the ant. Art will not stop without copyright. We should all make art, just like we should all work.

    Extreme? Probably. But at least worth consideration.

  • Pirate

    Do you think it’s fair if you download a copy of a CD you’ve already purchased, but lost/scratched the disc? The record companies would call you a pirate.

    Do you think it’s fair to download the high-def copy of a movie you’ve already bought on DVD? The movie companies would call you a pirate.

    Why do you think many TV stations now provide access to Online shows? The wars of the IPSs vs. the cable channels cause watching online through obfuscated thottling technology extremely painful. Piracy cuts you out of their bickering.

    Wake up people, take the power back. Horribly outdated modes of content delivery and tie your hands into paying for the same data over and over again. There is a better option and those that modernize will prevail.

    If you business model needs new legislation to be viable you should probably get a better business model.

  • Mark

    Astroturf warning!

    The astroturfers for the copyright lobby are out in full force today spamming this article with their comments:

  • James

    Gotta laugh at the paid commenters on here.

    Of course artists should be compensated for their work but the idea that downloading content is the same thing as stealing a physical product is ridiculous. The integration and collusion of the Telcos is a far bigger issue.

  • Tucker

    Well, Herman Goring looted art from half of Europe and he didn’t feel bad about it either.

  • Andrew

    We cut the cable cord in January and we haven’t regretted it yet. A good article that captures the mind set of a lot of households. Keep it up!

    PS Wow, look at the astroturf fly!

  • Miriam

    It appears that many of the people commenting on this article are missing Brown’s point.

    Canadian’s are not being offered a fair market price for the media we want to consume.

    Therefore we are stealing.

    Pretending to protect the artist by supporting corporations who market high priced service plans is a pretty blatant misinterpretation of the issue.

  • Eggs

    Balanced Copyright for Canada is astroturfing this comment thread:

  • JamesT

    I love that the astroturfers are completely missing the call for a service that legitimizes what you are doing.

    The piece plainly states that he would be willing to pay significantly more for legal access to the content he is currently stealing (as per his on admission), but that it is not available.

  • moosebump

    what a ridiculous attempt to get hits. And then Jesse goes on twitter to mobilize his followers to add some supportive comments…

    You don’t have a leg to stand on here because you pollute your argument with so much drivel. For $30 a month you CAN’T get movies while they are still in theaters and unlimited HBO. HBO has basically sworn to never sell content to Netflix. Google TV has been blocked in the US by the large broadcasters. Canada is more complex due to Cancon requirements. Rather than pirating all your content why don’t you relocate to the US and see how green the grass is there.

  • Garfield

    If you don’t consider it piracy, Jesse – and in Canada there’s certainly a legal case to be made – then that’s what you should be talking about. Since you do concede that it’s piracy, it’s a pretty weak defence to start talking about how hard you find it to navigate CTV’s website. As a media critic, how would you regard “it’s way more convenient” as a justification for intellectual property theft?

    (I’m not a Rogers drone or anything, by the way. Almost everyone I know is in the same boat as you – as I have myself on a couple of occasions – doing something they can’t intellectually defend because it’s so easy.)

  • Murray Silverbaum

    Logic of detractors in this comment forum:

    “This is no different than downloading a car.”

    Logic of author and other reasonable Canadians:

    I would rather give $14/month to Giganews instead of 12x that to Rogers for an inferior product. Both are thieves, so I will make an economical rather than a misguided ethical purchase.

  • Ian K

    @Rich – First off, I COMPLETELY agree that this article has no place being on Toronto Life! This is a website for Torontonian’s to discover new restaurants, find out about night life and other great forms of entertainment in our city. Not a site for someone to post their rant attempting to justify his theft of someone else’s content.

    Jesse, if your logic is that enough people steal content, the company will be forced to lower their prices – then you need to take the plastic off that economics text book and actually read it this time! Even if there was logic to your theory of this (which there is Z-E-R-O), you still will never pay for it. Even if Rogers or Netflix lowered their prices to $1, that’s still $1 more than a thieving pirate like you would ever pay anyway.

    If Toronto Life feels strong enough about this article to post it, then I’ll follow Jesse’s lead, go to a featured restaurant in your magazine, and skip out on the bill. If I get enough people to do it, eventually the restaurant will have to lower their prices so that people will actually pay for the food – right Jesse????? That makes perfect sense according to you, and your supporter, Toronto Life.

    It would put such a smile on my face to see you in court and try to justify your crimes to a judge by telling them that you didn’t want to be a sucker. There is no crime in being a sucker, but there sure are crimes for being a thief!

  • brianary

    Welcome “Balanced Copyright for Canada” astroturfers!

  • walkerp

    Unfortunately, the content providers in Canada have a monopoly (more accurately, an oligopoly) and they either can’t or won’t deliver that content in a way that makes it easy for modern consumers. Whether it is unethical or not, consumers are going to drift towards the easiest way to get the content they want and flipping through channels of drek is no longer that way. In the states, iTunes and NetFlix are viable models, making good money. Our versions of those are so limited that they still aren’t really worth it. Why not? Why do iTunes and NetFlix users in the States get access to a wide range of popular movies and TV shows and we don’t? Because the companies that own the rights to that content here in Canada still think they can control how we watch that content. As long as this situation continues, so will “stealing”.

    And please, let’s not hear about lost jobs. Hollywood has had record-breaking year after record-breaking year.

  • Zumborro

    The sad thing, this is 100% correct. The CRTC is basically owned by the larger telecom companies, and our current gov. only stepped in cause of backlash from the people, and they did it after the opposition parties jumped on the wagon. The CRTC should be disbanded and a new group of people with the proper education, and no loyality to big corporation should be put into place, and they should have a shelf life on how long they are part of commision. telecom service providers should be forced to make public the actual cost of the service and how much they want to charge, which would force fairer pricing and more competition. And there should be no competition clauses stating where a company can and can not compete, cause that is leading to a monopoly by the big 4 who do backroom deals with each other!

  • Brian

    This is actually the reality of widespread Internet piracy that telecoms don’t want to face: that people do it because of poor access. It’s true all over the world. I’ve lived in Europe; people there copyright because they get Hollywood movies at TV shows somewhere between six months and two years after they’re available in North America. Or they can get the pirated version, often with high quality subtitles, online almost immediately.

    I cut off my Rogers cable last month after getting a PS3, a Netflix account, and an OTA antenna. The quality of the HD on the antenna blows away what I was getting through Rogers. The number of streaming sites I can use online aside from Netflix that display nice quality through the PS3 is staggering. Don’t call me a pirate; I actively tried to find alternatives to Rogers in Toronto, but since I rent my place I can’t put up a satellite dish and this is basically my only alternative. And frankly, I love it. Sure, I’d go back to Rogers. I’ll go back the second I can get all the content I was getting from them before I cancelled for $40 a month instead of $120. At that price it would actually be worth it.

  • Paul

    I’m glad you’re happy with yesteryear, but some of us would like today’s technology to work for us.

    There is no clear answer here. I’m not going to pay for cable. I’m not. It’s a rip off. I know when I’m getting robbed. I’m sorry you don’t.

    Who are you to tell me how I should consume the media I would love to pay for? I can do this with music now, why can’t I with TV and Film’s?

    Do you not in any way find it strange that it’s easier and more convenient to pirate tv and films than it is to buy? This problem went away ages ago with music. Music stores are plentiful now. I have an eMusic subscription and for stuff not available there, I go to .

    So my answer is pretty much to not consume these things. The last major movie I saw was Tron Legacy, and before that I can’t even remember. The movie industry has assured they are not getting any money from me. I don’t pirate movies, I simply don’t consume them at all now. Is that better? Are you happy that I’m not pirating and simply doing without all together? Is that also helping pay artists salaries?

    How about we fix the problem, not shoot the messenger?

  • jraealc

    As Carter mentions above this writer is explaining exactly how he steals and admits to stealing and yet that’s okay with our current laws. This is the perfect example of how desperately we need to change these laws. I find that it’s becoming routine for people to steal music, movies etc… without a thought to how it impacts the creators. Canada wake up!!!

  • Roger

    This is a great example of out dated distribution models just failing.
    It was noted in another article I read how sites like Giganews charge on average even higher $15 a month.
    This shows how there is areal untapped market for a decent product. The only thing that comes close is netflix and you can see how there growth is explosive.
    And how do the content providers treat netflix for actually marketing and selling their products well…like garbage.
    Wake up content providers, proven market right here!!!!!

  • Susan B

    “Canadians are not being offered a fair market price for the media we want to consume. Therefore we are stealing”…

    I go to the Jays game and a hotdog costs $7 inside the Rogers Centre. I walk 2 feet outside the doors a hotdog is $3 at a stand. Its called a market price. Let’s say the hotdogs at the $3 stand are stolen… You would feel okay about eating that stolen hotdog just because you are getting a better deal? You must buy a lot of your household items from thiefs.

    Justifying your criminal activity might help you sleep at night… but it doesnt legitimize it or legalize it.

  • Paul


    How exactly would anything in Bill C-32 change? Current laws would allow CRIA to go after Jesse. Nothing would change other then stifling competition and consumer choice.

  • Derek K. Miller

    I’d like top congratulate @Tucker (previous page) for being the one to hit the Godwin’s Law threshold for this thread.

  • Not Mr Cableguy

    Wow, how many mega media company share holders posted here? Plain and simple – make it easy and cheap for me to buy the content I want, and I’ll pay. I’m not paying $20+ for a CD of crappy songs. But I’ll pay $20 at iTunes for 10+ great songs. I’m not paying $40-50+ / month for a cable feed of stuff I do not want. If TV shows were $1-5 each, I’d probably pay more than $50 / month to watch what I want.

    Big Media myth: No money, no art – Wrong! Art will happen because humans are social and creative. Copyright happens because humans are greedy and evil.

  • Eggs

    “For $30 a month you CAN’T get movies while they are still in theaters” (March 14, 2011 at 4:41 pm | by Garfield)

    You’re right you can’t get it for $30. (You can for $0.) Regardless, there is a demand for movies at home at the same time as their theatrical release, and piracy is fulfilling that demand.

    But for a moment, imagine what it would be like if it were the theatres and studios who were fulfilling that demand, instead of the pirates. How awesome would it be to be able to go to a movie in a theatre – an experience that is not replicable at home, no matter the theatres’ fears – and then be able to buy the movie on DVD on the way out of the show? THAT WOULD BE VERY AWESOME.

    And all that money (about $12+ for the ticket, $many for concession food, plus whatever the DVD was priced at) would be going to the theatre and studios. I would not be surprised if the exclusive DVD deal even raised ticket sales. Everyone wins.

    More laws aren’t going to reduce piracy. Better business ideas will.

  • Joe

    Great piece Jesse!

    For those that complain that Canada is seen as a haven for piracy, the problem is that we’ve been pushed there by the industries that block digital access to content.

    iTunes has shown that we’d all pay for content if it were available, but all the good sources are U.S. only. Yeah, it’s still stealing, but you aren’t stealing *from* anyone, since they aren’t willing to offer it to you.

  • RK

    Jesse’s point that is being lost on many of the (astroturf?) comments is that the legal market is broken enough that getting the service he wants requires going to a grey or black market. Given that the resources of the legal market are far larger and there is nothing legally stopping them from providing the service he wants, it becomes a very interesting decision, especially considering the lack of legal competition.
    Historically this situation has been resolved by the grey market overtaking the legal market (e.g. Hollywood). Perhaps the astroturfers are anti-Hollywood. :)

  • AnonymousLOL

    I would download a car if I could!

  • Roger

    This reminds me of prohibition, people didn’t respect the law because they saw it as unreasonable and so eventually prohibition collapsed.
    Monopolies, duopolies, copyright extremists, an almost complete disrespect for the people who actually made it possible for a healthy creative market “the consumers”, these things have brought people to the end of their patients.
    In a recent poll of one European country more than 70% thought it was ok to pirate.
    I blame that on the industries who’ve soured people on copyright.
    Seems like if it was a democracy copyright would be finished in that country.

  • holyastroturf

    Nice to see the industry jump in here and make their voice heard.

  • Daniel

    I’m with you on this Jesse. I’d happily pay $8 for Netflix if they had a better selection. I tried it for a month and would’ve kept it if they had the US movie/TV collection.

    I’m also unwilling to pay $40 for basic cable just so I can watch 3-4 TV shows/week (at the time the broadcasters says I have to watch them). Would I pay $20/month for Hulu (which is actually free) and then watch them when I want? Hell yeah I would.

    And I’d happily pay $10/month for BBC1 and BBC2 just so I could watch F1 and Top Gear. But since I can’t get either of those I have to resort to less-than-legal online video streams.

    Since none of these affordable options exist I’ll stick to my torrents and reading books on my Kindle.

  • Sergei


    great article!
    Thank you for being brave to share that there is really no way we can get descent content in Canada in convenient form legally. That is the result of being the country with no anti-monopoly law and no strong consumer protection agency or laws.

    One issue that you have not addressed in Canada is requirement for usually VERY crappy Canadian content that Robbers and others imposed on themselves through CRTC. I can’t believe that we are actually subsidizing all these.

    I also cut my cable back at the beginning of 2009, not because 100$ a month was too much but because I didn’t have time to watch anything other than BBC World News and very rarely some Nature Documentary. But I have found a great replacement that is very legal.

    I’m a member since 2006 and love this service, so I get my 11 Blu-Rays a month. I get my Al Jazeera and BBC World News craving shots at (can’t stand Mansbridge News on Communist Broadcasting Corporation).
    Also since I speak Russian, I get more than 40 Russian TV channels for just 10$ at (fully legal service).
    What I will be doing next is probably buying VPN access to the US Internet and paying for the US version of Netflix and if can will also try to access Amazon Video services.

    I refuse to pay for anything that will sponsor shitty Canadian content like Chicken Grill Channel on Rogers. I also refuse to pay for bundles, I don’t need CTV, CityTV, GlobeTv, whatever other retarded stuff they have in the basic part of the TV bundle.

    What I’m ready to pay are the US versions of Discovery channel, History Channel, National Geographics channels anything that “Canadians” touched I refuse to watch. Each US channel that get Canadified becomes totally unwatchable.

    So I don’t mind to pay so long there is content in the convenient online format and in good quality available to me when I think I want to watch. Cable TV and Satellite TV are for old crooks that will eventually die out and will take the existing way of doing business in Canada together into grave with them. So I realistically expect technology to catch up in Canada may be in 15-30 years. However effort like yours to promote piracy in Canada will speed up this process slightly.

  • Jimmy

    Regrettably most of the other commentators missed the point of your article: That the blatant thievery by the big telco/cable companies has gone on for so long that they consider it normal and accepted. They don’t understand that you are forced into your actions by the throttle hold that these companies have on access to content. That they charge us usurious rates and still expect us to smile while pulling out our wallets! The full gamut of services that the companies offers will run close to $300 per month! Think about that. Internet access is a cost that should by all rational reasoning be declining if these companies had used what we pay them to stay current with demand rising. NO! They chose to give themselves large dividends and spend the money on wireless networks! Leaving their wireline networks to rot! Now that we can use easily available tools to circumvent these artificial wall and prices…WE ARE THE THIEVES? A pithy two word phrase ending in ‘you’ comes to mind.

  • Rob

    Wow, I was actually thinking about buying a subscription to Toronto Life magazine. But now that I see they are paying writers like Jesse Brown to blatantly advocate theft, maybe I’ll just go out and steal it instead.

    Thanks Toronto Life for saving me $22/year!

  • umhello


  • Brianary

    @Rob: Didn’t you already just “steal” it by reading it without paying?

  • exjimmy

    The outrage at the suggestion of theft, the passivity at telco rip off
    tells the whole story.
    We get what we deserve

    Good story Jesse, to bad most don’t see point

  • Rob

    @Brianary: It’s perfectly legal to read this website without paying, while it is not legal to take a copy of the magazine from a store without paying. Are you suggesting otherwise?

  • Jon

    This is what happened 5-10 years ago in the music market. The big labels were slow to respond to consumer demand, and forced an in-expensive and (often) poor quality product on their consumers. The consumers revolted, and the eventual outcome was a legal and convenient way to get fairly priced music (iTunes).

    The cable companies and big networks, protected by their oligopoly, are now in the same boat. Rather than force consumers to purchase 60 channels when 5 or 8 are wanted, people are giving up on cable.

    The big networks, rather than supporting Netflix, Hulu, and devices like GoogleTV are fighting a modern war with the donkey pulled artillery of battles past.

    This is the only way change is going to happen: By having consumers like yourself force their hand. Kudos to you for making your discovery known to others, so they can stop overpaying too.

  • hardran3

    I like all the Rogers/Bell shill accounts posting about how “bad” you are for “stealing”. While the Canadian TV/Telecom/Internet duopoly treats its customers like garbage, giving us shoddy service for exorbitant prices, the internet provides. This is simple civil disobedience, nothing more.

  • jedgar

    Not a “pirate” but a hard-core thief in my opinion. You can blame it on the Telecoms all you like but the truth is, you’re stealing from a community of content creators. Really? Really Jesse Brown? You’re kidding, right?

  • adrian

    Astroturf warning!

    The astroturfers for the copyright lobby are out in full force today spamming this article with their comments:

  • adrian

    seriously, what does everyone posting here think the networks do? they’re just an outmoded distribution model, making all the money from advertising, with 95% of the content creators (think writers, set workers) getting paid low-to-normal wages. the author is advocating ditching this system for a more efficient, net-based distribution in which he can pay a fair, competitive price for what he wants, not some ridiculous bundle.

    all you astroturfers need to read some first-year economics to understand why our oligopoly hurts us all.

  • Ren

    In Canada, time shifting is not ILLEGAL, so STFU everyone and stop being offended like this person actually deprived something from someone.

    It would be totally illegal if they were making money out of it and I would agree myself to fine them and sue them.

    Anything else, sue me.

  • Odie

    Astoturfed indeed. The CRIA couldn’t have replied to this column any better. Unless of course they did.

  • toilet

    Man, Toronto Life has become such a sad piece of trash.

    Jesse you’re a thief and a loser.

  • leeeeeeech

    Leech 4 lyfe

  • Darryl Moore

    It’s always about who you pay, and less and less often is it the creators. If you are not paying Rogers for bandwidth and downloading via Bittorrent, you are paying Apple or other vertical market controllers who charge exorbitant amounts for creators to have access to their markets. (Yes the creators. Apples sells its product owners to creators. not the other way around. That’s the funny thing about people, they keep thinking they are the customer instead of the product.

    The sad thing is that with the DRM provisions in the new copyright bill, vertical market integration will get worse instead of better, which will rip off creators and consumers alike, while driving the tech savvy ones places like the pirate bay.

  • Dpasiu

    A lot of people commenting here don’t get what you’re talking about. That’s likely because they’re 21st century illiterates who still read this incredibly laggy medium called newspapers and they’ve never experienced something other than fing Canadian CRTC controlled garbage.

  • cory

    I can see why he is doing it such poor service ant being able to see what we want and paying astronomical prices it just sucks the stealing part is not right but I do agree with him until they can provide a better service and get things like the states then we will be happier.get moving rogers.

  • Andrew

    There is nothing wrong with file sharing. It is not stealing, it is copying. The world will not end if some artists stop making the money they used to make. They just have to adjust to the new way the market works. There are other ways they can make money, and if they don’t make money, then obviously there’s not enough demand for what they do. I can’t believe there’s still people who are against file sharing.

  • Mikkel

    Reading the comments on this article, I’m not sure whether to laugh or cry.

    I’ll spell it out for you, the #1 reason people (illegally) download movies and TV shows. It’s not because it’s free; it’s because it’s easy. HDTV shows are available on BitTorrent days before a few of them begrudgingly make their way onto iTunes or streaming video, and films are online months before you can get them at your local video store. People aren’t naturally cheap, just naturally lazy. Offer them what they’re getting illegally (or better) for a reasonable price, and 90% of people will pay it.

    As for the people who won’t pay, I doubt if many of them represent a lost sale. Most of my friends have music libraries worth thousands or tens of thousands of dollars, and none have the change to throw around to buy that much media legally. They’re living beyond their digital means, and nothing in that has anything to do with theft of a physical good. Stop reading out of the music industry’s playbook.

  • Eunomiac

    Net piracy isn’t theft, because there is no loss, no deprivation. If I steal your car, you’ve lost your car. But if I download a movie, then you’ve lost nothing. In fact, my word-of-mouth advertising might even earn you more paying viewers. Curious how this type of “theft” can result ONLY in your gain. You’re right! It’s JUST like carjacking!

  • Roland Studer

    Everyone who thinks this should change, should sign the “Don’t make me steal”-Manifesto:


    Digital Media Consumption Manifesto

    I PROMISE never to illegally download a movie if there was a legal alternative following the criteria on this page

  • Whyask

    Smart guy.

    Hint: Don’t sh8t where you eat.

  • Kyle

    Fantastic Article!

    It really gets to the heart of the issue: When paying $170/month offers substantially inferior service than paying $15/month, there is a problem with the system.

    You don’t compete with free by making your service worse.

    I’ve purchased DRMed CDs that would not play in my CD player.
    I’ve purchased DRMed DVDs that will not play in my computer.
    I’ve gotten tired of paying for content that does not work.

    I pirate music and movies because when I hit ‘play’, they work.
    If legitimate media providers can’t do that, I welcome their downfall.

  • Infomage

    I found this article very interesting. As a British citizen, I was not aware that the Canadian media market was so sewn up. What a revelation.
    To the negative commentors, come on, people, get with the 21st century! Ever heard of “Try before you buy” or Shareware?
    Personally, I see nothing wrong with the middle ground. Why can’t the service providers see this, and start to deliver a reasonable service at a reasonable price?
    Want to see if you might like a new TV show? Getting the first episode or two for free, and then paying for the rest seems perfectly reasonable to me.
    If someone isn’t sure whether they are going to like something or not, they are much less inclined to buy “on-spec” – particularly in these economically challenging times. It just seems like common sense, and good marketing practice, to give away a little for free, and then at least some of the people who are exposed to a product they would previously not have given a second glance will part with some hard-earned cash which would otherwise have stayed firmly in their pockets.

  • durob

    This is sad indeed. Stealing is stealing. It sounds like your parents never taught you right from wrong. They must be so proud of you. We need copyright reform now!

  • toilet

    bullsh*t #1:
    “Your product is too expensive and I don’t like the way you’re choosing to sell it so I’m just going to steal it.”

    bullsh*t #2:
    “I actually didn’t steal anything since the dictionary definition of stealing means something is actually taken. A copy is a copy – the original is still there, you see!”

  • Graham

    Hear, hear!
    I’m doing exactly the same thing as the author and just like him if there were a fully legal alternative that offered a service that was as convenient and as fast as my current pirate setup I’m pay for it in a heartbeat.

    Do you hear me Rogers? Take my money! (You just need to get a decent service running first.)

  • bawheid

    Looks like the comments have been astroturfed by the Friends of the Telecommunication Industry – No, don’t you do anything that Rogers et al doesn’t approve of. Be a good placid consumer, just buy what we want to sell you and no more complaining. Spark up the usenet my hearties, market forces are blowing fresh.

  • Ivan

    This is an excellent piece. Media companies should look to piracy not as a threat, but as a model of what consumers really want: accessibility, lack of artificial barriers to content (pointless encryption, DVD zones, no access to international offerings), portability, a unified and usable user interface which can be changed for personal preference. It is not about “stealing” or “free”, people would be happy to pay a reasonable price, but the choice is simply not there. Piracy is not the apocalypse for content providers, but it will be if they keep ignoring the consumer’s demands. See this article for a detailed explanation:

  • pdr89

    Stealing…that is what the big ISP and cable/sat tv company’s are doing. I think its sad that that people cannot educate themselves on copyright law and just believe big medias “stealing” line. What happened to our unlimited internet, the answer is greed. Downloading is the only way to stop the GREED. I hear complaining all the time about high bills from these monopoly crtc controlling companies. How else can we fight back? You bet I want Hulu and Pandora, why am I a thief, I pay for cable/internet… The GREED needs to stop.

  • Kate Holland

    You are a hero and a patriotic Canadian. It is every Canadian’s responsibility to help us escape from the clutches of Rogers. Why should we be coerced by the corrupt telecommunications companies whose lobbyists swarm Ottawa and whom no elected representative has the will to challenge? I have got rid of my cable. There is nothing worth watching on any of the paltry channels that Rogers offers us. Why should we not have access to the rich content that comes from the likes of Hulu? The fact that so many of these comments are so vitriolic makes me suspect that the cable company goons are out standing up for their billions of dollars of profit. Why does everyone ignore the fact that Jesse said he is prepared to PAY for MORE and BETTER content. He is a pirate out of necessity, and the faster the rest of us join him, the more likely we are to get decent quality content instead of the crap that Rogers fobs us off with.

  • Skought

    Excellent article. This is exactly what Canadians, and especially Telecoms, need to hear. They need to get with the times or risk becoming another irrelevant Blockbuster.

  • Cassandra

    Great article. Cable here is too expensive for what amounts to a very mediocre product.

  • AP

    Want to stick it to Rogers and Bells restrictive practices in this country while still supporting the content creators?

    Get a VPN, then you can have your full access to Hulu, real Netflix, NHL gamecenter, etc. You still support the content producers through these legal pay or ad supported services and watching through these services actually records you as a viewer in the ratings (unlike Canada in general) so you help support the continued creation of your shows.

  • Alison

    I feel like the ads on the side of this page help subsidize this online version, so it’s not really stealing the way that the author advocates.

    Also, I’m not sure what authority he has to decide what a fair market value for media is in Canada.

    The US also has gasoline cheaper, would he consider it fair and just to run a pipeline from the states to his house to get gas for free? I hope not.

  • BB

    I see the Canadian Copyright lobby has sent out thier astroturf supporter to criticise the writer of this article. Having worked (and left) an entertianment/media company, i actually have to applaud the writer for his article. I have been in the meetings where the lobbiest show how to handle these types of articles. Rather developing the business model to have quicker access to content, greater content, the media company and the telecoms are forcing canadians to such extremes and (GREY market methods), for such reasons as the author indicated. Yes currently its immoral to download, but it is still not illegal as the crtics say. And currently (maybe in the future it might) downloading tv in canada is not huring the creators, its hurting Rogers/Bell’s shareholders. They pay astronomical sums for the feeds in canada becuase they have no compeittion, and the creators will get thier money for that licenec right. Rogers may not get the $ becuase if no one subscribes to them anymore becuase of thier delays on getting programming out there, then it may open up the canadian market to reasonable prices, content and distribution. Untill then BRAVO Jesse. Lets hope more Canadians follow suit and teach these telecoms a lesson.
    (PS I would cut the cord if my SO wasn’t technologically impaired!)

  • Don Ho

    Jesse – if there’s the slightest shade of a bright side in this sordid tale, it’s your acknowledgement that you couldn’t look Tina Fey in the eye. Apparently, somewhere deep within, you have a conscience. Personally, I like to go through each and every day never having to worry about who I might have to look in the eye. Stop stealing, and you will feel so much better about yourself.

  • Andrew

    Great article! It’s clear there are some astro-turfers in this comment section, big telcos can afford big astro-turfing campaigns and it shows here.

    Canada’s telcos and media moguls need to wise up to the digital revolution or be left behind by people like you and I.

  • Peter Randy

    Jesse makes some very good points at the state of our providers/services in Canada. We are dealing with some crappy deals/sites, but that alone is no reason to pirate EVERYTHING you watch.

    This is the same mentality as a toddler who wants the toy his friend has – grow-up! So we have to wait a while before we have the same services as the US. Big deal, is your life going to be empty without full service TV/Movie services?

    Of course not, just another example of someone addicted to this digital world who believes its his/her right to have access to anything they want whenever they want it.

    Lets be smart about this – if you continue to steal and advocate theft we’re all going to have a lot more to complain about. The industry wont be able to sustain itself and provide weiner’s like Jesse new and exciting material so they can veg out for three days at a time watching entire seasons of shows.

    So I guess if I want to follow his rational I can start stealing a whole bunch of crap – TTC rides, groceries, gas…etc…After all, I feel some of their prices are expensive, and I’m sure the US has better deals on that stuff too. Would I be a cool pirate if I did that too?

  • Byck

    Well done author… well done. Im sorry to all you people on here that are complaining that he is “stealing”. Its 2011 guys come on, EVERYONE has something pirated… SOMETHING, even if you dont know it…. If you own an ipod… you probably own some pirated music.. If you have ever watched any video EVER online that was copywrited…. and I dont mean download… just watch, stream, whatever… you stole too. He is completely right, the services provided in Canada are GARBAGE!!! Why do I have to pay twice as much for my cell phone and internet then in the USA and get less service from that cost. For the same price, you can get over 10x the dl limit in the US on your internet. US Cell phone plans are cheaper and provide more minutes. So when it comes to paying for tv…. Ive already been ripped off enough by Bell or Rogers… and The TV is their most expensive bill. In order to watch the stuff you want to watch, you have to pay like over a hundred bucks a month for TV…. for TV!!!!!! AND there are ads to boot. You would have to literally be glued to the TV to get your money’s worth, otherwise you are paying ridiculous amounts for next to nothing.

    You go pirate!

  • tiger97a

    all i have read is paid trolls working for the music and movie people. how about a up to date business plan that charges a very fair price for their usally crappy products. then they could make more money then what they are now. and no your stupid augerments about stealing a meal or something that you consume and don’t give back will not wash. sorry to blow you away as over 70% of the world doesn’t support your lies. yes i do dl but if i like it i go buy it and i have a legal copy of everthing that i have down loaded and liked. how does it feel to know that your stand on this issue is outdated before you even write it as each generation is down loading more then ever as your tv shows and movies push for these kids to use a computer on most of their shows, so set back and keep it up you trolls as it makes good reading for laughes.

  • blaher

    This whole post was just…dumb. Sorry mate, keep some stuff to yourself. “Zomg I am a pirate I am cool”. Yea..keep it inside next time please. Thanks.

  • anonymous

    wow, i am seeing a lot of comments on here made by people who should by all rights be too stupid to live… what is wrong with all of you? do you like being taken advantage of by BELL, ROGERS and SHAW?

  • No


  • Diana

    We are trying to apply an old paradigm “stealing” to a new paradigm called “copying”, an old system where you paid up for access to a new system of choice of access. The business model has not caught up – this is what we are seeing. For how many years did people want “just one channel, not the cable package” but couldn’t get it. Debating stealing is for the soap-boxers.

    “Pirating” video shows a desire to watch the programming. Steps on the way have been paid for – internet access, computers, etc. When people had cable, they watched everything for one fee. What is the new business model?

    There needs to be a new business model to accommodate people’s changing needs and there currently isn’t.

  • Quentin

    Wait… so everyone who disagrees with Jesse when he literally advocates theft is automatically a shill, astroturfer, corporate spammer, paid troll, or lobbyist? Or perhaps they value the work that goes into creating the movies and TV shows that Jesse is advocating stealing?

  • Vivian

    The million dollar question we should be all be asking is why don’t US and international companies such as Hulu, Amazon on Demand want to launch in Canada? What’s holding them back, especially since we’re right next door? Economics. Canada is roughly 1/10th the US’ population which means companies in the US will almost always make more money on a volume basis than here in Canada. That’s why the exact same pair of Adidas shoes in Toronto are selling for much less in Buffalo. When companies see the smaller profit margin here in Canada, and then realize that our copyright laws aren’t exactly robust and piracy is rampant, they prefer to concentrate on another market – often in developing countries such as India, China or Russia. We need to figure out a way to coax companies like Hulu to launch in Canada….show them they won’t be competing with free. Illegally downloading content is not the way to show them this – this just further substantiates what they think – Canadians value free & illegal over legitimate paid content.

  • vs1629

    This article underscores the urgency of modernizing our copyright laws. Small picture, Brown is getting the content he wants, on his terms. Big picture – the creators of the content aren’t being compensated. What is their incentive to create innovative offerings for consumers? Creators are ready, willing and able to serve their customers, but before they can do that, we need clarity in the law, and education of the public. Stealing is never ok, no matter how it is justified.

  • Freebasedog

    I can’t believe how many commentors are up in arms over downloading a TV show but have no problem with getting fucked in the ass by giant monopolies on a regular basis.

  • Roger

    OK, so you want modernized copyright, I’m ok with that. Now please point me to one section of c32 that would change anything that was talked about in this article.

  • Stevie G

    “When we watch a movie, it’s often a new release, still playing in theatres.” Jesse give me a break. You are a thief and an enemy to anyone who works in the film industry. Stealing feature films has nothing to do with your beef against Rogers. You live in Toronto so there are tens of thousands of films (new and old from all over the world) available to you in cinemas and through legitimate rental and retail outlets. And at reasonable prices.

    BTW – there are lots of legitimate ways to get around Rogers and Bell. HD receiver, itunes, Netflix, etc. etc. Consumers in Canada often had have paid more and had fewer choices when compared to the US. Clothing, automobiles etc. etc. So you have to pay more for an episode of the Simpsons than in the US. How can than possibly justify theft? If you were advocating getting content from a pirate site that it is not available in Canada you might have a point. But to justify wholesale theft of everything in sight just because you hate Rogers and want to have access to everything on your own terms is childish and irresponsible. Shame on you and shame on Toronto Life for printing this article.

    And no this is not a “astroturf” post. You can hide behind that fantasy all you want Jesse but as someone who works in the film business, I can tell you there a lots of real people out there who are appalled by what you wrote.

  • jerry

    Jesse is absolutely correct that the cable/internet situation in Canada is abominable. There is no legal way to get online access to even a fraction of what is available south of the border. We shouldn’t underestimate the seriousness of this problem, and civil disobediance/disruptive technology may be the only way to pry open the gates. The bad old days of “Rogers Video” are behinds us (an army of Rogers shills notwithstanding).

  • John Richmand

    What you are doing is illegal whether you like it or not. Just because it’s easy to find a tv show or movie doesn’t make it right. The transition to on demand steaming content is happening, but don’t expect the big cable companies to bow down without a fight. It’s their entire business model going down the drain. However, considering my new t.v streams video directly from the internet means that soon they won’t have a choice. They either catch up or die.

  • db


    You are wrong about why the online media will not come to Canada. They will not come because the licensing fees the ‘content’ owners are requesting are ludicrous compared to what is being charged in the US.

    Almost as if some ‘content’ owners didn’t want the services to come.
    Wonder if that’s just greed or if it’s just leverage to get the laws changed?

    Don’t belive me do a simple google search on Pandora and Canada your looking for comments from Pandora itself not the “contnent” owners.

  • Paul

    Struck a nerve with that article but I agree completely.I got rid of that cable monopoly in 2000 and I watch anything I want when I want without any guilt attack at bypassing that ripoff company.

  • Grant

    Hey my wife works for one of those big bad telcos. Just because you don’t like the price of something doesn’t mean u get to steal it. Shameful of some of the folks on here, they just keep stealing content and don’t care who’s hurt, nice….

  • Jenna

    Great piece Jesse. I’m actually very surprised how many people have commented that they disagree and do consider it stealing. A reflection of an older audience?

    I just listened to your podcast interview with David Purdy. I think you really hit the nail on the head when pointing out that Rogers has a conflict of interest. Purdy may think this is “preposterous”, but as someone who has NO interest in cable I would disagree. I don’t have a tv, I have a laptop. And if Rogers can’t figure out a business model that allows me to watch shows over the internet, then I’ll find someone who has. Period.

  • GRC

    Exactly right. Big content and big telecom want to keep us tied to their teats, but that does not work. I have only had cable in my residence for a year, but it was the next greatest waste of funds I have ever indulged in. Smoking was the first and I got some satisfaction from that.

    There are few TV shows I would ever watch, even when they are on a TV. Movies I am interested in arrive in art theatres months after their general release in their country of origin. Much as the industry might cry and beat their chest, they are the author of their own misery. Attempting to control the consumer as to when and how they might view their content only worked in an analogue world, and even then there were ways to beat the system.

    Digitization makes it easy for the average person to get the content they would like and when they would like. And if the providers think this is a problem, wait until 3D printers become more available.

    Maybe they could read a few of Cory Doctorow’s more recent novels for some insight to how the general public thinks.

  • stream

    How old are the people reading this article – stop for a minute and consider not social conventions and definitions of theft and piracy. Some might consider the fact that movies and TV that gross billions of dollars in revenue – theft, artistic theft – what is the true value of what you are watching is it really worth it. Having the worth of so called ‘art’ dictated to you makes us nothing but sheep.

    We cut our cable 6 years ago and have been happily watching only the best TV through our home server and RSS feeds.

  • Eric L.

    Well, if it was stealing, which it isn’t. And yes, Jesse is absolutely right. Canadian digital works through TV and radio are ridiculously overpriced while providing little value. Why? Because Rogers, Bell, and other big telcos have monopolies in their respective markets, Bell being the worst with the most control.

    The CRTC should never have allowed Bell and Rogers to own TV stations/media companies, because it expands their already too large monopolistic influence. But, as we well know, the CRTC is a useless sock-pocket

    The posts you are referring to seem to to be from media conglomerates not because they disagree with Jesse, but because they used the same tired flawed arguments often employed by lobbying trolls to reinforce warping of the law.

    “Stop stealing, and you will feel so much better about yourself.”

    Puh-leeze. You realize that Tina Fey is still getting paid a more than fair amount of money right? You also know that revenue from distribution is mostly focused towards the middle-man, right? Tina Fey doesn’t care whatsoever.

    “I feel like the ads on the side of this page help subsidize this online version, so it’s not really stealing the way that the author advocates.”

    Oops, I have an ad-blocker on. Guess I’m “stealing” this article. Oh wait, I’m not stealing anything because the definition doesn’t fit.

    “The US also has gasoline cheaper, would he consider it fair and just to run a pipeline from the states to his house to get gas for free? I hope not.”

    Except gasoline is a real, physical good that can actually be stolen. If I syphon gasoline from a gas station, I am taking away a physical quantity of something that the gas station can no longer sell. The gasoline is no longer in his possession, and he hasn’t been compensated for it. Digital media is copied, never stolen, and can be produced infinitely. If Jesse could copy gasoline, I don’t think people would have a problem with that.

  • KNau

    I wouldn’t worry about Canadian film and documentary producers losing out due to piracy. No one watches their crap anyways.

  • Bryan AVM

    Piracy is not the answer. Articles like this…opinions like this…are what’s holding Canada back. You think the actors and musicians will continue to work if their industry is crumbling?

    Anything that’s new, vulnerable and starting out, will fail.
    And we’ll be left with fewer choices…and even less stuff to watch.

    Stop dignifying crime.

  • Technobuddha

    #1 downloading is NOT illegal in Canada. Sharing IS.
    Most Canadians don’t know that there is a “tax” that is placed on all hard drives, ipods, etc that go to the “artists”, so downloading via news groups IS perfectly legal….
    #2 the argument that the “creators” and “artists” will starve is a joke as well: they almost NEVER get the revenue from digital rights anyways!
    #3 how can you steal energy? Based upon quantum physics we all are energy anyways.

  • FedupCanuck

    Seems that Balanced Copyright for Canada a front for Canadian Recording Industry Association have their stooges posting here. These stooges fail to mention that there are programs on US networks which are not available from the Canadian cable providers. Regarding Canadian artists going to be out of work, we are already being forced to take channels by the cable providers/CRTC in order to support Canadian content. It doesn’t mean that we watch the content. If Canadian content can not stand on its two feet why have it on life support as it is now?

    The cable providers and networks are scared that their business, both TV and cable delivery system will feel the wrath of Canadians if true on demand streaming via the Internet comes to Canada. The delivery providers have created artifical barriers by crying to the CRTC and having them implement our cumbersome archane licensing system. The reason why Netflix Canada is lacking shows that are available in the US is because the artifical barriers erected.

    These barriers via the plethora of regulations and licensing protects the incumbent providers from true competition in
    the form streaming services like Netflix, Roku and Hulu. These providers now own two of the three national tv networks, the means of delivery via cable, satelite or TVoIP as well as a majority of the ISPs. Canadians are fed up by the antics of these large corporations and are rebelling.

  • El Quintron

    The good thing about this situation is that piracy has shown itself to be a market force, Europe and even the US has responded by making products and services that have been able to compete with Piracy.

    The bad is that the Canadian content biz is content to stick its head in the sand and pretend piracy doesn’t exist or feign moral outrage at what has become a viable alternative for consumers where proper streaming services lack.

    Hopefully Canadian content will wake up before they go the way of the dodo.

  • mrs. davies

    Excellent article. lts Rogers, Cogeco et al who are stealing from us.

  • Jean-Marc Paquet

    Hi, and thanks for the article.
    I agree that in Canada we have ‘NO’telecom competition.
    This is why we have the most expensive mobile phone and internet services in the western world!
    I’m living in Switzerland right now. Things are extremely expensive here right? not half as expensive as in Canada! Here my prepaid sim card for my cell phone will last 12 months, not 3 as in Canada. When I buy prepaid time it is valid for one year. Everywhere in Europe cellphone contracts are 2 years not 3 as in Canada.
    INTERNET! wow!
    I live near Geneva and I get cable internet for an expensive $60 /month for 10Mbs (no download limit).
    However, in nearby France, all the little Communes(villages) are putting up their own fiber. check out :
    40 Euros (~$50.Can) gets you 100Mbs/TV/free voip with no downlod limits.
    In Amsterdam you get the same for 25 Euros/ month!
    Now that is COMPETITION!
    Let everyone know the telecoms are getting richer and richer at our expense!
    thanks and regards,

  • Harold Hotham

    I think a lot of people here missed the point. Mr. Brown, is willing to pay and significantly at that, to get what he wants. I agree with him. The point is that to get it, he has to download (arguably illegaly although I dont think so although amorally perhaps.)

    The point is that Canada’s Telecoms are not serving the needs of the public and they have the rubber stamp backing of our federal government to give us what THEY want not what we want.

    Yes, we need to protect our own industries, creators, artists etc and that can still be done but it should be very clear to everyone here that it isnt the telecoms or the CRTC who are doing it. Look at the ruckus the telecoms raised about having to pay for localized content. Now who was ripping off the industry? Does that put it into perspective for you?

    Mr. Brown et al are not the enemy. They are consumers who are getting the entertainment they want. The means may be questionable but the message isnt. Our industry needs to get off its collective high horse and look at the bigger picture. The wrong people are being blamed for what has become a national oligopoly with government blessing.

    Now, lets look at physical media. Buy a CD (if you can) and you pay roughly $15 for recent releases. Movies are $25+ Now if you are an audio/videophile you wont settle for less. It is packaged, the quality is excellent and you have it forever. The alternative is go to iTunes (as an example) pay the same, get a far lower quality recording without packaging or longevity. Now, are the artists and creators getting a greater share of the reduced costs? Not a chance. Of course downloading illegally denies them of any income which is morally wrong as well.

    People want and will get entertainment the best way possible. Canadians just wont spend their children’s inheritance to get it. Me included.

    I dont download any entertainment. I will however rent it and if I like it, buy it used. It is just as good but you can be damned sure the artist isnt getting any additional royalty from Blockbuster. Now who is ripping off the industry?

    Point a finger if you want but remember you are part of the problem by screaming at someone like Mr. Brown instead of where it belongs; at government. They are the ONLY ones who can effect change and they refuse to “interfere” in free markets. Well, they have effectively created a “free” market for people who wont settle for the mundane.

    The sky isnt falling but the chickens are running around the barnyard as if it was. Get smart and look at the bigger picture and the reasons for the situation.

  • Jojo

    Ok he is stealing, but I think the people that are posting negative comments are missing the point. The telecom companies here in Canada are also stealing FROM US, millions and millions of dollars. Good for you if you can get what you need and shame on Bell and Rogers for keeping Canada in the stone ages!

  • IFV

    Actually its Rogers and such who are stealing from your pocket,,,not Jesse

    Rogers executives (and other thieves) need to go to jail for massive theft. We the people have the power. We the people make the rules for ourselves, cant allow some corrupt greedy official or capitalist make rules how WE are going to live. Government is supposed to represent us and our interests not corporations. We need to take our rights back and put all these pricks in jail. At least we know all their names, when the time comes we can come after ALL of them and have them pay

  • iconice

    Canada sucks, might as well steal everything you can while you can.

  • Marko

    Some people think Bell and Rogers are helping us into the new era…think again..the prices are outrageous!!Kudos for another alternative…Sure sad for the brainwashed people who have responded here! You should take a look at the rest of the world instead of your little backyard you live in!

  • Elk

    its really hilarious how many of you idiots jump all over this guy. i’ll bet 99.9999% of you people screaming theft have downloaded something illegally from the web, be it a song, or a piece of software. if you say you never used napster when it was still active, you are LYING

  • xpax

    Bravo, Jesse, bravo. I did the same thing years ago when I realized that I was paying $100+ a month for cable and getting nothing for it.

    I’m blown away by the number of paid corporate shills commenting on this article. If they aren’t shills, they’re most certainly people who can’t see the big picture.

    Services like Hulu, the US version of Netflix, etc would be awesome to have here in Canada. Unfortunately, due to stupid regulations/contracts, that’s not going to happen any time soon.

    Everyone needs to remember that piracy is a symptom of a bigger problem. If everyone is pirating the product, it’s a sure sign that said product is overpriced or it is artificially scarce.

    I have no desire to deprive the networks of revenue, but given my principles, I have to. I will not give 1 cent to Bell or Rogers due to their continuing anti-competitive and profiteering behavior (UBB, buying up content production so they own production, distribution and internet access). They no longer have a right to be in business, as far as I’m concerned.

    Thus I’m left with no choice but to pirate. If there were a convenient and affordable way to get the content without Rogers or Bell being an intermediary, I would. I do subscribe to the castrated CDN version of Netflix, even though it’s pretty much useless. I know it’ll eventually get better if people subscribe.

    As for those who are calling Jesse a baby for demanding change: you are idiots. Civil disobedience has always been a vehicle for change. If the studios/networks came up with a simple way to buy their product online in a non-DRMed format at a reasonable price (say $3 for a movie/$0.50 for a TV episode — legit DVDs are priced this way in China) they’d have my business back in a heartbeat. They’d make a lot more money this way guaranteed, as people would no doubt buy significantly more movies than they did before.

    Also, a fact: piracy is NOT stealing. Nobody is deprived of the show that is downloaded as a result of that act.

    In short, the message to the entertainment industry is this: make your product more accessible. This can be accomplished by making it easier to find the product (eg. your website, and accessible to everyone regardless of location), and making it much more affordable. If you do these things, you’ll find your profits are higher and piracy is massively reduced.

  • jess

    My question to the people who feel this is so abhorrent and ethnically questionable is, how much is enough?
    How much money does a film or TV series or piece of art (or much less a provider of these mediums–these snakes) need to earn? $100… $100000?… $1000000?… $10000000?……..?
    As a lover of the arts I would be the first to question such “theft” if it was effecting the output or even the quality of said art. But that is the amazing thing about art is it not? It always seems to find a way out. Why does it have to viewed as a commodity? Worth this much! At its core it is not.. people just make it to be that. How about art for arts sake? Or is that just beyond people who don’t really get art at all? The robots. Yes, I think it is.

  • Elspeth

    Everyone’s entitled to an opinion. For instance, I am of the opinion that I should cancel my subscription to Toronto Life for printing a sanctimonious opinion piece that tries to rationalize digital theft, disguised as a tirade against Canadian cable and internet providers. It’s one thing to run a journalistic article on how the industry could better adapt technology and marketing in order to fight a black market that is impossible to eradicate, and it’s another to advocate what is equivalent to on-line shoplifting.

  • Rex

    Jesse Brown is a smug, self-satisfied, sanctimonious prick. Listen to his TVO podcast and you can literally hear it in his voice — even his faux-stuttering is sanctimonious. Brown’s a fool on certain issues, spot-on about others, and frustratingly one-sided in his beliefs (and the aforementioned stuttery thing he does drives me up the fuckin’ wall), but on this issue, he’s partly right, I must admit. This country sucks when it comes to providing ALL the content anyone MIGHT want to watch, whenever they want to watch it. The U.S. makes us look anemic by comparison.

    I’m ten years cable-free, owned a satellite for a year after I gave up cable and let that lapse too. A bazillion channels and near CONSTANT re-runs! And the same commercials over and over and over and over again. I don’t pirate, YET. I’m a DVD/Blu-ray guy, but I order most of my discs from U.S. companies and have them shipped to my U.S. mailbox, all for considerably less than I’d pay here in Canada. That said, I can still understand the desire to pirate, and I only hope that those who do it now REALLY WOULD PAY two to three times what they’re paying a pirate-type site (which benefits NO ONE) if Canada ever got modes of media delivery that rivaled our neighbours to the south. I’d be happy to do so.

    I watch the news and a couple of TV series on the Canadian network sites (which are, as Brown states, a FUCKING NIGHTMARE to navigate!). But as I wind down my adventures in DVD (as it winds down its lifespan) and look to streaming options, I’m afraid I have to consider Brown’s method. If, by that time, Canada has something that comes close to the American system, I’ll happily fork over my money for the privilege, although I’m sure by then Bell will have lowered by download cap to about 3GB a month.

    I can see why people who crave 24/7 entertainment feel like they have no other choice. The other choices available to them in this country are fucking pathetic.

    (the post by “xpax” above makes some very salient points, and presents them far more eloquently than Mr. Brown)

  • Lou

    I bought a flatscreen in January 2009 and within a few months realized that with an antenna I could receive more HD stations for free than I was getting from Rogers for around $85/month. Up to that point I had no beef with Rogers, but for me HD and the ability to hook up my tv to my laptop were game changers. Cable no longer represented value for money. The fact is that new technologies have given us more choices than Rogers or Bell see fit to recognize, and if people don’t feel they’re getting value for money, they’ll find alternatives.

  • m moore

    Sorry, the delay in my commenting to your article was caused by a contemporaneous period of mourning for Rogers et all.
    When I go to ROD they (Rogers) will actually charge me to watch TVO programing. What!
    The moment I can avoid paying fees to these modern day railway barons will not come soon enough.
    I would suggest the plight of the artists and creators be taken up with massive corporations like Rogers for a portion of their centralized profits.

  • Tired of all these idiots

    One would have to be an idiot not to understand the difference between copying and stealing.

  • yerallnuts

    Unfortunately the new copyright act will have poor Jesse and his family in jail, because Tony Clement is pushing for a DMCA style law to replace our current copyright act, complements of stiff US influence.

    I suggest we might implement the law, but double the price for the oil we sell to the Yanks and use that to reduce the price we stupid Canuks pay for gas (after all they sell our oil to us for a lot more than they sell it to US consumers), take some of the leftovers anf buy all the digital media anyone in Canada would ever want. The rest of the excess could go toward paying down the debt and rebuuilding infrastructure.

    Ought to take about six weeks of increased oil rvenue to pay for this.

  • Tim

    The current landscape and selection on the Rogers cable network, for a lack of a better word, sucks.

    plain and simple.
    Here’s an idea Rogers, Bell, Telus.
    Give me an a la care selection. Charge me 49.95/month for all the local channels in HD (CBC, CITY, CTV, etc etc) then let me select 5 specialty channels..that I want? I don’t want TSN standard, I want TSN HD! But I have to have the standard def TSN to get TSN HD?!! How whack is that?

    As well, OTR (over the air) is awesome. Hook up an antenna, you get 5-10 channels in It’s OTA!! and all the good US shows are simulcast on any of the Canadian channels

    If you can’t wait, stream it. The big canadian guys have he rights to stream their content off their sites. I watched Flashpoint off of and 30 Rock off, no big deal. Throw in your ads, I understand.

  • teekay

    Say what you will about the tone of this article, the author is representing the frustration that a lot of Canadians are feeling and acting on. Not everyone is choosing to do what the author has. Some people wait until a TV season is over then buy/rent it on disc; others are watching shows on the TV network websites; but, pretty much everyone recognizes that step one is to get rid of cable/sattelite. Realistically, closing our wallets to the big media monopolies is the only way to get them to change their ways.

  • Mywordstotheres

    Everyone calls everyone a thief, the real thief is the large companies.

  • Steve

    I would be more than happy to pay the legitimate owner for that which I am forced to steal. Canadian broadcasters, satellite, cable and internet providers are each more than happy to force me to to it. Just wait till they jack up your cable/sat bill in order to justify “local TV”. The excuse is that the local TV stations (which are owned by Bell, Rogers and Shaw) should be able to charge the cable/sat carriers who are they? (please think this one through…I’m not writing them out again) for the stuff that they buy from the US. The cable/sat carriers have said that they are not in a position to absorb those costs, so they will be forced to pass those costs on to the consumer.

    …now do I have to talk about the internet providers? Here is a hint…see above.

    How bout cell phones? Home phones? Movie and programming rights?

    …and this is all controlled by three companies? This is okay???

    All justified and regulated by the out of date CRTC, which is made up of people from the industry…wait a minute…isn’t that those companies i just listed above?

    God…Canadians will actually believe anything as long as it’s attached to righteousness and nationism.

    As long as the prople of this nation continue to stick their heads in the sand over how telecommunications is changing in the world.

    Well it’s gonna get hard to breath after a while eh!

  • Christine

    I’m glad that a lot of the comments are focusing on the real thievery – the corporate kind. Sadly, this corporate thievery is “legal” and has forced consumers like Jesse to consider obtaining media content in an “illegal” manner. The fact that what Jesse is doing is considered illegal while corporations like Bell and Rogers can charge exorbitant rates while effectively monopolizing the media and communications market is just plain wrong. The CRTC is a giant puppet, and the media giants pull the strings. The fact that they can turn around and increase their rates for internet usage as soon as a competitor like netflix comes in is a blatant attempt to extort money from consumers. And even more disturbing is that the CRTC allows it! They are a group of enablers when they should be watchdogs.

    Furthermore, Bell and Rogers charge for channels that are supposed to be free – CBC, Global, CTV are all free. If you have an HDTV and buy an HD antenna – 20 to 30 bucks at an electronics/department store – you can get these channels because legally they cannot scramble their signals. Rogers and Bell, however, are only too happy to charge consumers who are unaware of this. If you have a very basic cable package with only these local channels, cancel it and get yourself an antenna.

  • Hey_Zeus

    I have to agree with the author’s post. I’m doing the same thing. The reason I’m doing it is not to pay less, but to get what I want. I would have no problem paying for this content if it were made available (movies in theaters withstanding). It’s available in the US but not here. And the reason is because the big boys don’t want to change. They want to keep milking us with the traditional method of delivering content, which was outdated 5 years ago.

    As soon as iTunes made it easier to buy music I stopped downloading the music for free. Why? Because they made it easy, affordable and provided quality control to the media. I would love for someone to do this in Canada for movies and TV. And to say we can’t do it is “preposterous”. To say consumers don’t want it is “preposterous”.

  • BiggusDickus

    Watch this video to see who the pirates really are.

  • Shocked

    Long time reader, first time poster. This article makes me sick and has seriously lowered my opinion of Toronto Life.

    I won’t bother repeating what has already been said… but I would like to add that this type of ‘stealing is cool’ literature belongs in the anarchist cookbook and not a magazine I used to really enjoy.

    Shame on you Jesse Brown and shame on Toronto Life.

  • Emma

    Totally agree with the article, and seriously considering doing the same. The vile corporate monopolies are going to kick and scream, but eventually they will be dragged to the 21st century.
    And to all the astroturfers – you are pathetic if you think people don’t see right through you. :)

  • Know what?

    I pay 29 cents for each and every blank CD-R that I use. Those CDs contain *my* documents and *my* files. Why do I have to pay some artist to back up my work onto a CD-ROM?

    On top of that I pay 13% HST I pay on everything I buy (including those CD-ROMs), through my provincial taxes, my federal taxes, and my municipal taxes.

    I get nothing in return for the money that is extorted from me for the benefit of artists.

    And I’m the “pirate”? HA!

  • Nelson Fernandes


    How much did GigaNews pay you for shilling their website ?

  • Jabawoki

    I find it amazing how emotionally charged people get when an author offers a difference of opinion and crystallizes what many people are actually doing in the real world (ie-at your neighbour’s house). In an ideal world, all market participants along the way for delivering content would get an equal share of their efforts. Unfortunately this is not the case and although people cry that ‘its the artists’ who get hurt, the big boys who operate the pipeline in canada are taking the disproportionate share, charging ridiculous fees for a mediocre service. Just stepping outside the country to see what other countries are experiencing gives you a clear picture of that. I agree, something needs to be done to change things.

    Jesse, i applaud your efforts in an excellent article. Your line about ‘A widespread embrace…will respond,’ was spot on. Only a shot to the bottom line to these providers will change things, but the comments i’m seeing from fellow readers leads me to believe that a widespread movement is very far off.

    The article was well supported by some interesting facts and ‘coincidence by Rogers.’ Keep up the good work.

  • Clayton

    Want access to Hulu and other american services like Hulu in Canada? Well if you are already a member of Giganews all you need to do is upgrade to the Diamond account and with the Diamond account you get access to Giganews VyprVPN which when connected you will be assigned a U.S. ip address then you can access Hulu and other services.

  • rob norton

    truley frightened by the comment section as usual – but not by your article -perhaps if people payed a little more attention to what the CRTC is up to they’d have a better idea why this matters so much – by the way do you have a podcast on cbc as well ? – just saw that yesteday – well done downtown -

  • Webstravaganza

    I love how no one condemning you for stealing is willing to offer anything in the way of a solution for the giant disaster our telco industry has become.

    Over half a million Canadians have agreed that things here are bad, and there’s been no real move to change things. Simply vague lip-service that put things on hold but won’t change the status quo.

    We’ve done more to prevent this situation from worsening than any other Canadian movement in recent history, and haven’t gotten anywhere. What then, oh “holier than thou, completely out of touch with reality” defenders of big telco, would you suggest as a viable recourse at this point?

  • OhTheMoneyIHaveSaved

    I’ve done this for nearly 9 years now and my phone is an IP phone setup using VoipMS last year’s phone bill totalled $68.00 USD for the YEAR!

    I use NetFlix, HULU and Internet radio daily. I’ve built my own HD antenna’s for local broadcasts and I refuse to pay $60+/month for “Basic” services. You should be able to get HD channels of your choosing for $15/month. If I could get local HD and On Demand HD service for $30/month I’d be sold.

    If I like a show I usually purchase the BluRay.

    Am I a pirate? Thief? Sure but I’m no different than the 1000′s of smokers buying illegal cigarettes. Or the 1000′s of satellite pirates in the GTA alone.

    I am not making a profit off of this. I do not sell anything to anyone unlike some others at Pacific Mall, or any other Flea Market in the GTA.

    So before you call me a thief look in the mirror and check your house inventory for any of these pirated DVD’s or CD’s.

  • airyt

    I think this article and the comments it has produced illustrates that there are two kinds of pirates out there: the ones that will steal no matter what and those that choose to steal as a form of protest against unfair pricing.

    While the former are out of reach no matter what happens in the marketplace, there are thousands of “pirates” that are savable by providing one simple concept: good service at a fair price. Knowing that it takes a few cents to serve a gig to my house, compared with what i am paying, makes the business relationship with my ISP a complete joke. If you want to charge me based on my usage, that’s fine, but don’t charge me a 2000% markup. Ok fine, i’m not happy about it, so i’ll switch … to who?

    If the government won’t allow foreign companies into the marketplace to keep competition up and prices fair, then the onus is on them to prevent the Canadian consumer from being gouged by the very monopoly they are creating.

  • Addison

    WOW! Look at all these negative comments.

    Let’s get one thing straight: downloading a movie is not stealing. It’s copying.

    It’s NOT the same as stealing a physical object because no one is out anything. If you steal a candy bar someone is out the resources it took to make the candy bar. If you download a TV show they are out a POTENTIAL sale- one you may never have made otherwsie. That doesn’t make it the right thing to do, but it does turn it from an exclamation of “That’s wrong!” to a “Eh, you really shouldn’t do that.”

  • Joanna

    To the guy who equated this article to skipping out on a restaurant bill: And by your logic, sir, you would be skipping out on that bill because they charged you a hundred bucks for a baked potato. I don’t know about you, but I would definitely be walking out the door if a restaurant charged me a hundred bucks for a baked potato.

  • gorillamydreamz

    You’re a thief. Plain and simple.

    And you’re literally taking food off my table as a television writer.

    You’re paying a company for access to the Usenet but they have no right to share what you view and none of that goes into the pocket of the people who create the shows and movies they share.

    I get the frustration. But you’re hurting people like me as much as the networks, Bells and Rogers of the world.

    It would be more effective to get as many people as possible to cancel their subscriptions in the same month and really make the cable companies sit up and take notice.

    But this isn’t really about doing what’s right, is it? It’s about getting what you want. Now. And for free.

    It’s nice that you’re proud to be a crook and feel justified in stealing. But here’s a thought, every criminal in the world feels “justified”. It doesn’t make what they do right. And it doesn’t make you a modern-day Robin Hood.

    If I remember correctly, Robin Hood actually did a few things for others.

  • InMyView…

    Jesse, I can’t thank you enough for publicly voicing our national discontent with CND telcos and Toronto Life for supporting the article’s publication. Judging by the responses here and elsewhere that it triggered, it served as a rightful platform for discourse on an imperative Canadian public issue and thus served us well.

  • Madashellnotgoingtotakeitanymore

    Bravo Jesse, read this the other day and I’m glad someone has the platform and guts to say what so many of us are complaining about.

    As a personal example I have spent tens of thousands of dollars on music over the past 3 decades, and I lawfully and happily would buy these CDs to support music I loved. Apparently I am a bad person though because I would make unlawful mixes for my friends, but who would then in turn go out and buy these CDs themselves. I was doing a huge grassroots advertising campaign for musicians and record companies. Maybe I should ask where is my cut? On a more serious note, when I would in turn bring my lawfully purchased CDs to work to play in a small proprietor run store, people would always stop me and ask what was playing so they could go and buy the CD. Ironically, 3 years after doing this the business was fined by Neighbouring Rights Collective of Canada (now called Re: Sound) back pay tariff -past even the time we had been playing music even! The pay was based on square footage and was to compensate musicians….they have no idea what music was played, despite the fact that I brought in lots of music that was no longer available commercially and was from other countries and never issued in this country. This is a huge insult to those musicians who would never see this money and our musicians would be compensated for their work outside of our country?! The local groups I would play got the general public hearing them and I know sold lots of CDs as a result, because they were smaller unknowns or not huge commercial bands. So we stopped playing music. Congratulations, Re: Sound, we couldn’t possibly afford your rates, and now fewer artists are being heard and having their work purchased. Is that working for your constituents?

    Another question is that for many of these artists who are dead, how long do rights deserve to last for greedy record companies or the families. Patents were meant to only last a set period (see LEGO, and why many other companies can make their own version of LEGO now). LEGO, for example moved on, and has, in fact, prospered with new business models and product. I’m a visual artist, and even I don’t get money each time my work might be resold (see droit de suite in France and some of Europe). Frankly this is when I really started to question buying music at all, and paying overly inflated prices for CDs, most of which I found out didn’t go to artists. Obviously a lot of other people did too, along with a changing technology to challenge the pricing/cost model as well as distribution.

    My above comments are just about music and not the rest of the entertainment sphere (TV and Movies). To address the greater issue of television/movies/music, it is obvious that in Canada our Telcos have an oligopoly over all media. This is bad for consumers and for the economy. The CRTC is a horrible impeding dinosaur that needs, as many have commented, to be rethought. Too many decisions are being made without much forethought of where the future is going or how our world is changing. This is what has killed the CD ultimately and some music companies.

    I hope more people read this article, and that government, CRTC, and these companies (not likely) take heed and realize that people will pay money for these goods, but that the pricing is just not justifiable any longer with the new distribution models and copyrights that seem to go on forever restricting our ability to move on and create anew.

  • Chris

    Why the big hang-up with US shows? There is so much online content for free (legally) that no-one should be short of something worth watching-ever. Check out and tell me you can’t find something worth watching. This is all free stuff some with little or no advertising.