Some ways to watch Friends, a classic situational comedy about white people, include: buying digital episodes for a couple of bucks each, purchasing them on physical DVDs for even less than that, or catching some of the many, many syndicated reruns available on network television for free. Or you could just pirate an episode and agree to pay Warner Bros. $20 in an automated settlement offer. Whatever. Up to you.
WB has reportedly been emailing people who’ve downloaded Friends episodes over BitTorrent and offering them a deal—“The One Where You Pay Us $20 and We Make This All Go Away.”
According to TorrentFreak, this is the message that went out from Rights Corp., a digital enforcer claiming to represent WB, to an anonymous Sir or Madam who pirated the 31st-greatest episode of the show (“The One With Five Steaks and an Eggplant,” from season 2).
“Although WB understands and appreciates that you are a fan of its content, the unauthorized uploading and downloading of its copyrighted content is a serious matter,” the notice reads.
“Your ISP service could be suspended if this matter is not resolved. You could also be liable for substantial civil penalties for copyright infringement.”
“The damage to WB from your conduct substantially exceeds $20,” the message concludes, “but in the interest of having you stop your infringement of WB content permanently, WB is prepared to make you this settlement offer.”
[Citation Needed], though, because the episode is readily available in several forms for much less than $20. What are the alleged damages to Warner Bros? The cost of contracting a company to email alleged pirates of a show about delightfully quirky white New Yorkers with unrealistically huge apartments?
Rightscorp represents a couple of large clients in Warner Bros. and BMG Music, but its business model is apparently not working out especially well. In an SEC filing last year—(“The One Where The Company Has Not Yet Established an Ongoing Source of Revenues Sufficient to Cover Its Operating Costs and to Allow It to Continue as a Going Concern”)—Rightscorp disclosed net losses of $6.5 million since it was founded.
That might explain why it’s digging deeper into its clients’ back catalogs than before, and going after 20-year-old episodes of Friends.
“This is the first time that we’ve seen people being targeted for downloading video content that’s more than 20-years-old,” notes TorrentFreak.
Could they be any more desperate?