I have a confession to make: I have watched live, streamed, premier league football on my laptop. There, I’ve come clean and I feel better now. You see, I’m a Sunderland supporter, and nobody ever screens Sunderland games live, so this is the only way I can watch them. According to most of the popular press, people like me are in danger of bringing down the whole business model of the Premier League, putting Wayne Rooney’s modest salary at risk. Excuse me? This is the same Premier League that recently negotiated eye-watering agreements with Sky, and others, to broadcast football around the world, so supporters in Bangkok, or San Diego can watch Sunderland games live, but I can’t in the UK. But now they’re going to follow the lead of the music industry and ‘get tough’ with pirates. Here are a few points I humbly offer for their consideration:
Point #1: Stop calling them pirates. I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again: they’re not threatening oil tanker crews at gunpoint, demanding ransoms. They’re a bunch of enthusiasts working, largely for no remuneration, in order to provide a service to football fans around the world who don’t want to wait until Saturday evening to watch their team’s highlights slot on TV.
Point #2: Don’t waste your time, money and energy in closing them down, because as quick as you close one down, another one springs up in its place – usually in countries where you have no legal jurisdiction anyway. The technology is so easy and ubiquitous that it’s pointless trying to ‘outlaw’ these people.