An article in the NY Times the other day about MythTV got me thinking about a phrase I'm sure I heard before but never paid attention to: "TV pirates". One of the authors of the article used it as a way to attack people for downloading TV shows, something I've done quite a bit. I do it because I never thought of it as piracy. TV shows are broadcast for free over the airwaves, somebody records it, strips out the commercials and uploads it a site for download. I've used it, for example, to download an episode of Lost I missed when it scrolled off my Tivo while I was away. I can understand the TV people not wanting someone to strip out the commercials but as far as I can understand it, there shouldn't be any such thing as TV piracy since it's free in the first place. And I already don't watch commercials thanks to the fast-forward button (which isn't illegal) so what exactly is the illegal part of downloading shows off the net?

Now, downloading shows from HBO or Showtime, that's a different thing because you're paying for them and they don't have commercials. But regular over-the-air TV? I know that the lawyers for the TV people would like it to be illegal to do anything but sit in your chair at their appointed time and absorb their commercials but lawyers and corporations want everything they don't control made illegal so they don't count.

So what exactly is a "TV pirate?"