Thursday, July 1, 2010

RIP free TV

Posted By on Thu, Jul 1, 2010 at 11:34 AM

Last year, the Inlander covered the rise of streaming television and movie sites. Sites that, with a click of a mouse, allowed West Coast viewers to watch hit shows like Breaking Bad before they aired. Sites that had every single episode of Alias and the X-Files archived and ready for free viewing. Sites that seemed a bit too good to be true.

“It’s in a gray area of the law, what we do,” said one of the administrators of the popular video streaming site NinjaVideo.net, who goes by the screen name "Phara." "You can interpret that however you like."

But yesterday, if you typed in "www.ninjavideo.net", it went nowhere. Today, we find out the reason: The domain names of NinjaVideo.net, along with eight other streaming video sites, have been seized and shut down by federal authorities. Something about their whole "violating copyright" thing.

This, at a time when Hulu has begun to roll out Hulu Plus, a subscription-based service to the formerly all-free legal television site. All too-good-to-be-true things, it seems, must come to an end.

Of course, Bittorrent and Megavideo survive. And foreign sites — with foreign domain names — are bound to take NinjaVideo's place.

"Oh my god, if NinjaVideo goes down,” Phara foreshadowed last year, “a thousand others will come up.”

Because if they don't, the horrifying alternative is a return to those cold dark ages when you needed a subscription to HBO to watch HBO, and people actually watched TV on a TV.

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