Now streaming and surveilling

Piracy ( by Tobias Vemmenby (CC BY 2.0)

Piracy and copyright infringement should not be unfamiliar terms to the digital natives of today. Many of us will have known someone close to us- perhaps a family member or a friend- who has engaged in some form of piracy. Even you, yourself, may have willingly clicked download on that newest episode of Game of Thrones or Pretty Little Liars. You may have spent your teen years downloading and sharing MP3s through the infamous torrent engine, LimeWire and you may recall how this commercial played before you watched a film you had rented. (Ironically, that commercial has since been found to have utilised stolen music itself. How awkward!)

Now, I don’t want this to come across as a dystopian, telling-off type blog post. Each of you dear readers will have your own views on the practices of piracy and whether or not you perceive them as ethical and/or unethical. This may even justify your reasoning for using or not using such mechanisms to obtain material. What I would like to focus on now, is how surveillance factors into this pressing social issue. Do we know how we are being watched when we stream and download content illegally? And are the authorities justified in their actions? It seems like the ominous threat of surveillance does not always deter.

Top Pirated Television Shows 2008-2015 – created by Caitlyn Putt on

I sent out a Twitter poll to my followers this week, trying to gauge an idea of how many of them were aware of surveillance when participating in online streaming and downloading. I was enlightened by some of my followers, who informed me that they chose not to access content illegally for ethical reasons, rather than being concerned with surveillance. The last Tweet stems from some of my own personal thoughts on the issue of piracy and Australia’s reign as one of the top pirating countries of the world.

When one uses a peer-to-peer (P2P) torrenting application such as BitTorrent, they are not only being monitored by another user as the data is shared, but are further opening themselves up to the surveillance of their internet service provider (ISP). It is the latter, the role of the ISPs that appears most interesting and problematic. Should ISPs provide user information and internet protocol (IP) addresses to authorities, or is this a breach of privacy? It’s a grey area.

Academic Tsoutsanis (2013) elaborates on this issue of privacy vs piracy and its role in the protection of intellectual property. He explains that ISPs are responsible for making the web go round:

ISPs know who is behind every IP-address they provide- or they at least have sufficient personal data to give proper leads to disclose the real identity of their customer: email addresses, bank accounts and telephone numbers, and often more. When push comes to shove, this is where piracy and privacy lock horns. In the past ten years, the ‘does-privacy-trump-piracy debate’ has continued to stir controversy across the globe, especially in the field of copyright enforcement.

(Tsoutsanis 2013, p. 953)

ISPs are seen to be taking an increasing role in the fight to stop copyright infringement, although their responsibilities are still a little ambiguous. As explained by Katyal (2009), ISPs can become conflicted about who they are liable to protect in piracy disputes. For example, during the Dallas Buyers Club piracy dispute, ISPs were praised for refusing to reveal customer details after the Hollywood studio behind the feud took legal action against Australians who had illegally obtained copies of the film. Meanwhile, other telecommunications and internet companies are finding themselves ultimately responsible for any material accessed through their respective networks.

To summarise, we are surveilled in different ways when we engage with streaming and downloading platforms online. Nothing is anonymous and we need to consider a number of factors before we click that download button.

Thanks for reading! 🙂

– C


Katyal, S 2009, ‘Filtering, piracy surveillance, and disobedience’, Columbia Journal of Law & the Arts, vol. 32, no. 4, pp. 401-426 , retrieved August 21 2016, Social Science Research Network

Tsoutsanis, A 2013, ‘Privacy and piracy in cyberspace: justice for all’, Journal of Intellectual Property Law & Practice, vol. 8, no. 12, pp. 952-6, retrieved August 21 2016, EBSCOHost




32 thoughts on “Now streaming and surveilling

  1. Reblogged this on Just Having a Think and commented:
    I feel like this is a topic that has been ignored by people who are downloading and don’t really give it a second thought (Guilty) but it’s good to see that it’s still being studied by the people who want to be more informed of their online actions.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great work on this one Caitlyn. The overall structure made for an easy and enjoyable read, whilst also being informative. The visual you provided of the most pirated tv shows really helped to illustrate how prominent piracy really is.

    I also really enjoyed the use of integrated twitter polls as it really shed light on people’s thoughts on the matter, as it’s definitely something some people either indulge in or are hesitant to do. I for one am definitely deterred by the surveillance aspect of piracy. I also thought your use of hyperlinks was really effective ☺ I would have loved you hear more of your own thoughts on the matter, maybe a personal reflection on the results your poll obtained? 🙂
    Keep up the great work!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Caitlyn, great piece! I found it to be very succinct, easy to follow and informative. It is a fascinating subject given the climate of change production companies are operating within. In relation to intellectual property, it is interesting to compare the divergent views of record companies who largely seem to be embracing streaming services. Your utilisation of embedded media enhanced your post and I found it very enjoyable. Keep up the good work!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Caitlyn,

    I really like how you have integrated community feedback, through the use of embedded twitter polls as it allows us to see people’s thoughts on the matter! I personally use mechanisms such as VPNs and proxies to gain access to unauthorised material, like American Netflix!

    Your utilisation of hyperlinks adds extra branches of optional information, which allows your readers to further explore if they want to! Your writing is clear and informative, but perhaps you could shed more light into your own opinions! Including your narrative voice may make your post even more accessible to your readers!

    Either way, outstanding post!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Hello Caitlyn,

    This blog post is really interesting because it raises issues a lot of people don’t consider – many people who pirate music, movies, and other media don’t actually consider what they do to be a crime, and so it’s very interesting to see it discussed in that context. Your integration of media was really good, especially the survey you conducted on your twitter, which I voted on! Your point about Australians engaging in torrenting services was interesting, too, as I’ve heard a lot of people say that this is the primary reason they torrent. Your research was well-conducted and relevant to your chosen topic, and your images were interesting.

    The only suggestion I have is to make sure that all your images are hyperlinked to the content creator and creative commons license so that everyone gets credit for what they made. Great blog post, really interesting! Keep up the good work!


    Liked by 1 person

  6. The language you used in this piece was very profession and clear. Your grammar and punctuation was likewise flawless and your layout was easy to follow and well-spaced. The images were topical and the embedded tweets were very interesting, especially because they were interactive through the polls.
    I think it would have been interesting to include your own opinion on the matter, as well as your own experiences or even a prediction about why you think people download instead of legally purchasing. Don’t be afraid to add your personality into your blog posts! You did an excellent job on this one, and managed to teach me a thing or two. Good work!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Great work Caitlyn! I loved all the use of media – all of the tweets, and images. Well done! However, I do find that the three consecutive tweets break up the blog too much. It’d be a sweet idea to 1. keep them relevant to what you are talking about and 2. position them in a way that breaks all the text up but does not create a huge gap in your text. I find I lost the tide of the blog with the tweets bunched together.
    However – great work! The blog feels nice and personalised and takes in to account other perspectives.
    Thank-you for the great work!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Caitlyn awesome post!
    Limewire is such a massive throwback, while I was reading your first paragraph, I was just thinking of how LimeWire destroyed my PC!

    I haven’t read another post on piracy, so it was good too read something different. Not many people would be aware that their downloads could be monitored because illegally downloading something doesn’t even feel like your breaking the law.

    You had a great variety of media your twitter polls worked well with the piece, and the images were great. I Can tell you put a lot of thought and research into the post as you brought up some great examples!

    well done!!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Hey Caitlyn! Wow what a really great post. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. Your media content was amazing and broke the text up really well, but as well as that it helped join your media and text together to make it one cohesive piece of work and you did it really well. I loved the timeline, it was an awesome addition to your work and sparked interest in what shows were the most pirated, and also helping your audience better engage with your content. Your referencing was great and overall a really solid job. Can’t wait to read more of your work!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Hey Caitlyn,

    You’ve hit the nail right on the head with this post. The idea that we’re being watched when participating in the illegal downloading and streaming is one that I’ve lived through myself. It’s a scary thought that not too many think of until it’s too late.

    The resources and links that you’ve used are great, and push your point forward all the more. The timeline was an awesome addition, and showed how much work and care you had put into this post. Something small, but it definitely worked wonders.

    Keep it up. You’ve got a real knack for this.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Hi Caitlyn,
    Great combination of text and visuals. Your writing has a nice flow to it, being both engaging and to the point, with the chart and twitter posts supporting the content and rhythm of the post. I liked how you made the topic personal in the first paragraph, as popular discourse on digital piracy in general tends to be steeped in subjective opinion rather than logic. I would have liked to heard your thoughts on whether ISP’s should play a part in the enforcement of anti-piracy laws, and in what capacity. This is a ‘grey area’, but it could also set a dire precedent for the use of peoples’ private data in areas outside of just piracy, and it is important that we should all feel that we can engage in the topic (because we can). Thanks for a great read, and a well crafted post.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Caitlyn,

    You have done an incredible job in keeping people interested.
    I really like the flow you hold throughout your entire piece, you keep things realistic and you are giving readers a new found understanding. There is no doubt that you have put a great amount of research in this piece and its really worked in your favour as you incorporate all the knowledge you’ve gained whilst also using a wide range of multimedia use. The timeline is excellent – you did a great job including this, as it’s a great way to engage for readers.

    Overall excellent job Caitlyn was a very pleasant read!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Hi Caitlyn!

    It is a very informative post that you have made. Your post reminded me on how I used torrent religiously back in the day. Honestly, I am not aware of any surveillance act whileIi was illegally downloaded tv shows or film because there is no warning (well, I am glad). But, your twitter poll is such a creative way to explain that may of us is not aware of it as well.

    This is a really great post because you have made it so easy to read and understand but still full of knowledge, especially with many variety of media in your post. Good work Caitlyn.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Hi Caitlyn,
    Nice work, It is a very professional post, I can see that you did lot of research from your blog. You used a good content and provide enough evidence to prove your opinions. Also your writing style is professional and attractive. Keep forward, you are doing great. All the best, Yidan.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Great post Caitlyn!

    Loved that you made a chart on to demonstrate how common downloading through torrent sites is. Some people are visual learners, and this is an easy way to digest these stats.

    What I enjoyed the most about your post is your use of inclusive language – and how you included us students into your piece through your Twitter polls. You establish that piracy is relatable to all of us, but then also outline the consequences – some of which I wasn’t even aware of. A great mixture of anecdotal and informative.

    You have established a link between piracy and surveillance in exploring the role ISPs have in upholding copyright law, but also explore moral and legal standpoints.

    Very informative post! The hyperlinked pieces of trivia also add to your somewhat playful tone at the start.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Hi Caitlyn
    From your blog post it reminds me of what people have done illegally on the internet, which are downloading games, music, or movies without being aware of the piracy and copyright infringement. Moreover, this blog has an information of ISP, which is definitely being useful for readers and it will get the readers in the current of digital age to be more aware of piracy and copyright infringement when they engage with the online public. In addition, it is very impressive that you have embedded the poll tweets, an image, a scholarly quote related to the topic, it helped your post more reliable.


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