Monday, October 29, 2007

My Take On Online Video Sharing Sites

Recently, I was very distressed to find out that my favourite website, TV Links, was shut down and its owner arrested by British authorities because his website consisted of links to other websites hosting illegal video of films and popular TV shows. See the Guardian article here.

I am not going to deny that, based on current laws, what he was doing is wrong, even if not definitely illegal. However, I do not like that the authorities seem to have a double standard for the ordinary guy versus big corporations. I think that if they are going to arrest people for sharing videos, they should spend more time arresting the real perpetrators instead of the middle men. Major sites like contain video clips that violate copyright laws but their owners are not persecuted like ordinary owners of websites such as TV Links. In fact, TV Links linked to illegal content hosted on sites like

Even stronger than my belief that the middle men should not be hunted is my feeling that broadcasting and film distribution companies all over the world should work together with content copyright owners and whosoever else they need to work with to make these types of sites available to all users legally. This is because no matter how often they shut down sites like TV Links, another site just like it will appear soon afterwards and users will flock to the new site in the same large numbers. From what I understand, TV Links had millions of users monthly so this means that millions of users worldwide are looking for their own on demand access to TV shows and films.

Currently, different sites such as and provide legal access to shows and other video content. However, often, this content is limited by the users’ geographic location. This leads to a large number of users from other locations resorting to websites like TV Links or illegal downloading sites to get the content they desire. Corporations often give the excuse that they are limited to whom they can show their content because of copyright restrictions in different countries. They are also reluctant to provide full streams of their shows online as they claim that they will be losing out on advertising revenue. I disagree with their reasoning. While some users would rather watch illegal content online owing to no advertisements, many users prefer the convenience of being able to watch whatever they want WHEN they want. Therefore, I believe that if all the major players involved were to work together, it would be possible to provide video streams of TV shows, films or other content with location-specific advertisements. In fact, I am certain that many users would not mind watching their shows online with advertisements as long as the advertisements are of the same length or less than the ones currently on TV.

Today, a service called began its beta testing. seems to have the right idea in terms of content. However, unless they make this service available worldwide like almost everything else on the web, then I for one will not be a supporter. Actually, if has no plans to make their content available to non-US users as soon as possible (not years down the road), then I’m calling on all other like-minded Computer Science grads or computer-savvy individuals to come up with a site that I can support. Heck, if you need help on developing this site, please feel free to contact me.

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