Why I’m upset by Mininova possible shutdown

I’ve been reading some worrisome news about Mininova being requested to filter down the torrent links (to the point that it’ll have no more sense to exist in the first place, I guess). This actually upsets me, even though not in the way most people seem to be upset.

First of all I have to say I don’t like copyright infringement (even though I dislike calling it piracy in the first place): Free Software licenses are based on the idea of respecting copyright and thus I don’t like being the kind of hypocrite who asks to abide to licenses and at the same time infringe on others’ copyright. On the other hand, I find myself thinking about double-standards pretty often. Mostly, when there is no real other option from doing something illicitly.

For instance, anime and, even more, Japanese drama are sometimes impossible to find without having to wait for years, or often have bad translation or some kind of “localization” that ruins the pretty much (usually watering them down with political-correctness, censuring and cutting down anything that might make them unsuitable for children — even when the original version was simply not aimed at children but rather at young adults, but I’m going down a different road now).

Now I don’t want to play saint, it happened to me, and sometime happens still, that I went to watch something that was illegally downloaded; on the other hand, I don’t do this systematically, and I spend a few hundreds euro each year in original content (DVDs, BluRay, games for PS3 and PSP, software — if I do count this year I guess I’m well over €1K thanks to software: between Microsoft Visual Studio 2008 and Microsoft Office 2007 I already reach €600), and these usually include more than a few things that I previously watched downloaded (The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya I had seen fansubbed, but I bought the Italian original box set earlier this year, for instance).

But there is one thing I absolutely rely on Mininova for, nowadays, and I’d be pretty upset if it was shut down: Real Time with Bill Maher ! Yes I do like this show, I have seen a piece of this some time ago in relation to an article by Richard Dawkins and then went on to listen to it (in podcast form) and then watch it (when the audio podcast was obscured for a while, and had to work around the US-only limitation, and found the full-fledged video podcast), up to now that I actually watch it downloaded from torrents each weekend.

Now, I know this is illegal, but HBO does not really provide me any other mean to watch it. And mind you, I’d be happy to spend €5/month to subscribe to it; I could even live with downloading it with iTunes, and having it DRM’d (which would upset me a bit but would be bearable). It’s a friggin’ late night show, not a movie, and not some general show like Mythbusters, which actually gets translated, dubbed and aired in other places, like Italy, although an year after the original American airing (on a related note: finding DVDs in Italy is still impossible; and region 2 DVDs from Amazon UK are limited to the first season…).

So if this for some reason arrive on the screen of some HBO guy: please, think about us, Bill Maher fans on the other side of the pond, and give us the chance of legally follow the video episodes. I’m sure that I’m not the only one who’s going to pay for the subscription, if given the chance. Then we can stop illegally downloading this through Mininova…