In my last post I admitted to downloading stuff using bit-torrents. It´s not something which I feel proud of - I would, of course, much rather buy the DVDs or original material, and keep the wheels of Doctor Who merchandising oiled with my money. But I guess I´m not the only one who is outside of the UK and just can´t wait to see my favourite TV show.
I sort of justify all this to myself in the following ways. I began downloading just music... I´d just started on my travels (several years ago!) when my hard-drive crashed, wiping out my CD collection which I had patently stored onto my notebook. It wasn´t just my music collection, but also my Doctor Who Audio Adventures (the narrated soundtracks of early 1st and 2nd Doctor stories) which I really enjoy listening to, again and again, especially when travelling. I´d bought all these, and as I own the original CDs, I see no harm in downloading copies to listen to whilst I am away and can´t access my collection.
In a similar vein, I own a lot of music albums on vynal and cassette... and having bought these and paid my royalties to the artists and companies involved, I again feel its fair play to download a digital version. I know it´s not really how the whole thing works, but hey, do I really have to buy all my favourite Pink Floyd albums again and again? I´m sure they won´t mind. There´s some I´ve already bought on vynal, cassette AND CD...
And then I started missing my Who video collection... so now and then I download the occassional DVD rip to watch on my notebook. I have every intention of buying the damn DVDs one day, for me, owning the proper thing, with the artwork and all, is part of the magic of being a collector. And I don´t have the spare disk space to store these, so I delete them after I´ve watched.
Books are another area... I love my Target novel collection, to the point where I would buy the new releases religously and dare not even read them in case I damaged the spines (my local library helped me out there). The one occassion I cracked was when I got the Five Doctors, a day or two before it was screened on TV, and I just had to read it. I ended up buying two copies. So again, I feel its fine to download PDF versions of these for personal reference.
There are some things I just won´t download... for example the Big Finish Who Audio Adventures. Big Finish need the sales in order to make more... and we dont want to undermine their efforts do we? Besides, they offer their stories to download on their website online (although I dont do this as I want to own the actual physical product). So much as I am tempted, I try to avoid these, and save them for a future day when I can buy the whole damn series. Ditto for the BBC New Series Audios.
But then there are things which I feel are fair game. As a collector, I´m interested in the history of Who, and there are many, many interesting things out there, which are no longer available commercially, and which I feel its fair game to download, and to keep seeding for others to share. Out of print books, such as the Virgin New Adventures, fall into this category. Many old collectables are also available, and for some of us, its probably the only way we will ever get to see the fine artwork and read the stories in the 1960s Dalek Annuals. There´s also archive production documents, costume design drawings and scripts to be found if you look hard enough.
So, after justifying my decent down the slippery slope of bit-torrent downloading and the ever decreasing fine line which I personally draw between what´s fair and what´s not, I´m going to let you into a little secret. There is an increadible site which offers UK TV shows and associated stuff, especially (but not exclusively) Doctor Who... it´s called TheBox and is well worth signing up for. They operate a download/upload ratio system to try and keep torrents alive, which I think is great, and it´s a really organised site. I just hope that one day this dodgy side of the internet gets legitimised somehow and I get to download guilt free. Besides, I have bigger things to worry about!