When I was overseas, I didn't own a TV. We couldn't afford to or give any good reasons to buy one and then pay the TV license fees, so we just went without.
In November last year, I was starting to really miss my television and went searching online for even just parts of my favourite shows. Not to download anything, just to watch.
Unsurprisingly, I came upon YouTube several times, but knew that most clips there would be brief and / or taken off quickly because the networks don't make money from them being there, nor can they make you watch commercials if you're sitting there clicking on videos from a different site than theirs.
Then I found TV Links - a British site that had a LOT of shows and movies and stuff listed. Not being interested in the movies, I quickly searched through the television offerings and found several of my favourite shows: links to whole episodes or ones broken into parts. Thrilled, I watched the entire first two seasons of The Office (US version), fell in love with a show I'd only heard bits and pieces about and have sworn to buy the DVDs for all seasons cause it's just that good. There were tons of episodes of Friends too - a show I love enough to own all ten seasons on VHS and DVD, as well as the final episode seperately. Watching this, I felt no guilt that NBC wasn't making money from me - enough money has been spent on Friends, believe me.
I also discovered Ugly Betty, Trailer Park Boys, Gilmore Girls (to name a few), and revisited The Cosby Show, King of Queens, That 70's Show, and Seinfeld.
It was TV heaven for me.
For the past week or so, I've been returning to the site out of curiosity and have gotten "timed out" messages and other such things.
This is why.
I really don't like to share my opinions about stuff like this, but after reading this article I can't help myself...
Not only was a young man arrested because of this, but they RAIDED HIS HOUSE. Claiming the loss of millions of pounds (about $1 billion with the exchange) due to sites like this, this poor dude is now going to have the full power of the law beating on him.
Somebody tell me - is this guy a drug dealer? Mafia don? Does he sell small children on the black market or traffic wayward foreigners into the country?
I honestly thought the cops had better things to worry about.
Before people start saying "But it's illegal to do this! To download shows and watch them with paying for them! That's stealing!"
Yup, stealing's wrong. I totally agree.
This website though, didn't actually allow you to download anything. It also didn't seem to have any actual content on it's site, other than LINKS to other sites where these things could be found and watched. Not downloaded. (big difference between making copies of movies, etc and just watching them online)
For example: You want to watch the new episode of The Office because you're 8,000km away from home, don't have a TV, and can't buy the new season on DVD yet. So you get onto your computer, go to TV Links, find The Office, and click the link on the new episode, which loads up and starts to play as you happily grab a drink and settle in for another half hour (or actually 22 minutes) of commercial-free enjoyment.
The problem executives seem to have with this cozy scenario is that: 1. You are watching their shows without being on their network, so they don't make money from that, 2. You are watching their shows without commercials, so they're not making money from that, and 3. Did I mention that they're not making any money???
What really bothers me about this is the commercials thing. I like to do my news-watching online, where I can pick and choose which tales of doom and gloom are going to keep me awake at night. Most news and network sites that allow us to watch videos force commercials into the mix, which I then mute until what I want to watch begins. Last week I tried to watch the wedding special on The Today Show - the one where people vote for each part of the wedding and the couple just has to go with it. Each new section of the series was a different video, which meant another commercial.
(While I can usually handle a 30-second advertisement, unfortunately this particular set of videos was sponsored by a refrigerator - so every single new video meant another dose of exactly the same commercial. Ugh.)
So I'm watching online. For free. Not downloading anything. Not spending money. And there are no commercials because I choose to ignore and mute them.
Perhaps somebody wiser can explain the difference between this and the now-dead TV Links. I just can't see what it might be.
And so today, I say goodbye to TV Links, a website that was found guilty of providing links to other websites with tv shows, movies, and cartoons. A website that allowed a homesick foreigner a little taste of home and hours of distraction and enjoyment. TV Links was judged guilty and sentenced to obliteration and it will be missed.
And now back to your regularly scheduled programming.
But first! "Have you ever had that not-so fresh feeling?"