One evening a short while back I felt like relaxing with something that doesn’t require too much thinking. I figured some mindless action movie should do the trick so I logged in to Netflix and searched for Transformers 5 but couldn’t find it. “No problem,” I thought, and switched over to Amazon Prime but couldn’t find it there either. So, I went for the third option, HBO Go, but to no avail, they didn’t have it. I’m not subscribed to any other streaming services so I witched to another movie, Fast and the Furious 9 if I remember correctly, but couldn’t find on any streaming service either. That evening I tried a total of four movies, all well known Hollywood films, on three different streaming sites and could not find any of them. At that point I simply gave up and watched something else.

This little anecdote is an example of streaming services failing to reach their maximum potential. Let me explain. The concept of a streaming service is brilliant, for an affordable monthly fee you get access to thousands of movies and TV shows on any device with an internet connection, be it a computer, a phone or a smart TV. You’d think then that piracy would be pointless, just log in to the streaming service of your choice and watch whatever you want without going through all the trouble of an illegal download. Unfortunately, things don’t work quite so well inn the real world. Except for the one I already mentioned, there are a number of problems with streaming services.

First, despite being online, services are not available everywhere; I believe due to various license agreements or whatnot there are many countries where you cannot access certain streaming sites. Second, even if you can access the site you can’t necessarily watch the movies/shows you want, as they might be restricted by country. Third, you should normally be able to get around both these problems by using a VPN, however, the streaming sites tend to have VPN blockers. It is still possible to use VPN, but it’s much harder to find one that works. Fourth, there used to just be a few streaming sites but now there are lots of them and many of them make their own original content. This means that if you want to watch all of the interesting shows and movies, it’s not enough to sign up for one streaming service, you have to subscribe to several of them. With that your monthly cost can easily double or triple.

As opposed to streaming services, internet piracy doesn’t have any of these problems. There’s no fancy interface but if you know where to search you can find anything from the latest Hollywood blockbusters to obscure indie films. It is of course completely illegal but if that doesn’t bother you, everything is available everywhere in the world, no VPN needed. On top of that pretty much everything can be found on one single site and since it’s stealing, your monthly fee is zero. The only real downside is that people who create things don’t get payed for their work.

Now I’m not saying people should go back to using Piratebay as their main source of media, in fact I think paying for the content you consume is the right thing to do. I just think streaming companies could do a lot better and until they do, internet piracy will still be a viable option for many people. Personally I will go for the streaming services I’m signed up for whenever possible, but if a movie or show I really want to watch is unavailable or difficult to access, I do feel tempted to raise the jolly roger.