The Walking Dead is one of the highest-rated television shows ever, but the post-apocalyptic drama, which airs on cable network AMC, is also one of the most pirated programs around. Some people, like Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes, don’t have an issue with piracy — the exec, who manages HBO under his Time Warner umbrella, said that piracy has been “better than an Emmy” for the super-successful Game of Thrones — but others think it could signify the beginning of the end for the entertainment industry.
One of Jeff’s formidable opponents is none other than The Walking Dead co-executive producer Gale Anne Hurd. “The truth is you wouldn’t imagine stealing someone’s car [or] a piece of art they have created,” she told the Guardian at the Cannes Lions festival. “We are poised on the precipice in filmed entertainment — TV and movies — because of the prevalence of piracy the content creators will not get a revenue stream to the point that they won’t be able to create. That is the danger of piracy.”
We don’t quite agree that piracy will eventually become so rampant that no one will pay for, say cable TV or a movie ticket, but we see where Gale is going with this and do agree that piracy shouldn’t be taken lightly. For starters, Gale wants Google and other major search engines to do more to disband illegal websites. “First of all if you go on search engines you should be able to filter out pirated websites,” she argued.
“When consumers do go [onto pirate websites] they look legitimate,” Gale continued. “They have advertising from well-known brands, and they take credit cards. How would the consumer know the difference between legitimate sites and illegitimate sites? There is a lot the advertising industry, credit card industry and search industry can do to help protect legit content.”
Furthermore, Gale noted that Jeff’s view on piracy represents some “dangerous thinking.” Part of the counterargument, which it sounds like Jeff subscribes to, is that piracy increases overall awareness for a show or property, which in turn leads more people to turn to legal ways to enjoy it. There are certainly holes in that argument, even though piracy often does translate to larger audiences.
Whose side are you on in this piracy argument? Tell us where you stand below!
The Walking Dead Season 5 premieres in October 2014 on AMC.