Kevin Spacey Says Indians Are ‘Stealing’ House of Cards, Even Though Netflix Isn’t Available In India

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In the US, Game of Thrones is wildly popular on BitTorrent, even though it is easily purchased on HBO, streamed on HBO Go, or downloaded on iTunes.  But what happens when there’s no legal alternative?  Does that make it stealing?

According to Kevin Spacey, star of the Netflix original series House of Cards, this isn’t a gray area.  “House of Cards is really big in India, I discovered,” Spacey told reporters at the International Film Academy Awards earlier this week.

“Except isn’t it funny that Netflix doesn’t exist there yet? Which means that you’re stealing it.”

The comments demonstrate the somewhat parallel universes between the music industry and other forms of media, including TV.  Of course, the music industry is renowned for not adapting and subsequently dying, though the question is whether the TV (and film) industries are learning any lessons.

65 Responses

  1. George Johnson

    This proves that fantasy that if you just offer a “legal” means, piracy will go away, bs. It’s time to go after these rouge sites like Bit Torrent and if the ISP’s don’t shut them down, then time to find a “un-safe harbor” in the DMCA to do so until they comply. This willful ignorance of massive copyright theft has got to stop. ISP’s need to VOLUNTARILY start blocking Bit Torrent and others.

    • Anonymous

      “ISP’s need to VOLUNTARILY start blocking Bit Torrent and others”

      It’s only a matter of time. BBC wrote a few days ago that ISPs are likely to block access to illegal content for fear of being sued by right holders.

      And there’s no doubt that all the new deals between ISPs and content providers like Netflix will accelerate these considerations.

    • Casey

      Your post really doesn’t make much sense. DMCA does not apply in India. Secondly, in the US ISPs cannot legally block bittorrent and supposed illegal websites. Comcast tried throttling bittorrent, which wasn’t even blocking and they were sued and Comcast lost.

      • Anonymous

        Here’s the good news, Casey:

        It’s very easy — and absolutely legal — for ISPs to throttle or block piracy & pedophile sites in the US. 🙂

        Throttling is one of the CAS mitigation measures, and most major ISPs work on solutions to prevent bandwith abuse associated with piracy.

      • Anonymous

        Blockin’, filterin’ n’throttlin’ all of the badness from the internets!

        • Anonymous

          Just you wait, you’ll be a fan of blocking as soon as you have kids…

    • hippydog

      Quote “This proves that fantasy that if you just offer a “legal” means, piracy will go away, bs.”
      Reread the article..
      He said Netflix THE LEGAL WAY TO GET HOUSE OF CARDS is NOT available, so they are resorting to stealing it.

      Its been said again and again..
      When the public wants something, they will find a way to get it.. If your not even giving them a legal, and easy alternative, then they will use the free but slightly harder way to get it..

  2. Anonymous

    “But what happens when there’s no legal alternative? Does that make it stealing?”

    Of course not. I have the right to steal your car if you don’t want to sell it.

    • jw

      It’s more like if Ford creates a car but doesn’t want to export it to a certain country (for instance, India), & then someone gets a copy of the blueprint & builds the car him- or herself, cutting Ford out of the equation. That’s the difference between a copyright violation & property theft.

      You understand the difference. It’s 2014… everyone understands the difference. You just make yourself look very simple by treating everything as property theft.

      Anyhow, if I were in India & I was interested in the show, I’d probably torrent it, too. But I don’t really get why Spacey’s getting his panties in a bunch. Didn’t they get full creative control & $100m for 2 seasons guaranteed just based on the script? And this is after everyone else in hollywood, assumedly, passed on the script?

      He can thank the internet for the best deal he could’ve possibly gotten for that show. And yet he doesn’t seem to really understand how the internet works, least of all that there are no international borders on the web… if the show exists, the entire country of India isn’t going to wait until Netflix gets around to giving them a legal option. That’s just how it works. You’ve gotta take the great with the bad, & monetize everything you can.

  3. ks

    DMN has become prolific with the humorously obtuse observations. “no legal alternative” means not legal.

    “adapting” to “other forms of media” was fool’s gold for the music industry, as the itunes folly demonstrated. TV and film wouldn’t want to follow that road, BECAUSE they learned that lesson.

    • Anonymous

      So it’s not about money. It’s about controlling what different nationalities are allowed to see.

  4. ks


    severely false analogy above, with the suggested reverse engineering of an automobile. unlike the false analogy, content thieves are not producing their own equivalent of a show. they are unlawfully distributing content without licensing.

      • jw

        If I was a manufacturer of a product that could easily be 3d printed, I’d be investing in thermoplastics & photopolymers, maybe even a 3d printer company, & I’d be figuring out a way to distribute my product(s) as a printer file(s). I would be as far ahead of the curve as I could get, because you can figuratively see the future coming straight at us… it’s very clear where things are headed.

        To me, & this is the same for music & for movies… you can’t stop technological evolution. That makes this more of a distribution issue than it is a piracy issue. Piracy has always existed, & it’s impact has always been negligible. It only becomes a big problem when mass consumer behavior changes & distribution doesn’t keep up. Large scale piracy is a correction of this misalignment of consumer expectations & industry offerings.

        You have to keep your finger on the pulse of these things. You can’t control consumer behavior. It’s like a wave, you have to ride it.

        • Anonymous

          “you can’t stop technological evolution”

          True — next step is AT&T’s upcoming anti-piracy technology.

    • jw

      It’s not a false analogy.

      The “real world” equivalent of digital piracy, which is actual piracy… counterfeit rolex watches, counterfeit gucci bags, counterfeit dvds & counterfeit cds. This is the real we’re dealing in, which is specifically distinct from property theft.

      What I described was a counterfeit automobile. That’s a copyright violation, the closest analogy you’re going to get so long as certain people insist on comparing digital piracy to automobiles.

      If they had recreated the tv series shot-for-shot, that would be another type of copyright violation. And I agree, that would be closer to the counterfeit automobile example. But we’re trying to find the closest analog to digital piracy, not the closest analog to a counterfeit car, so that makes the concept of reenacting the tv series irrelevant. You’re not actually disputing the logic. We’re all adults with brains & we all know the comparison I was making was more like a counterfeit automobile to a counterfeit DVD.

  5. Paul Resnikoff

    This is almost version 1.0 of post-scarcity, because virtually any form of media that is released can be acquired with or without the participation of the company distributing that media. That’s basically been true since Napster, though one reason for that reality is that music was too small, too egotistical, and too unintelligent of an industry to fight that effectively. It’s going to be really interesting to see how TV and Hollywood deal with this problem; they have much larger hammers, and frankly, smarter executives with the luxury of about 15 years of media disruption.

    • jw

      Always reminds me of this awesome Doug Morris quote…

      Morris insists there wasn’t a thing he or anyone else could have done differently. “There’s no one in the record company that’s a technologist,” Morris explains. “That’s a misconception writers make all the time, that the record industry missed this. They didn’t. They just didn’t know what to do. It’s like if you were suddenly asked to operate on your dog to remove his kidney. What would you do?”

      • TuneHunter

        So he allowed his guys with friends from Universal to open Veevoo and then they gave the goods to streamers.

        I would rather operate my own kidney!

  6. wallow-T

    “If you respond to the desires our marketing campaign creates in you, you’re a criminal.”

    • Chris

      Yes you are if you acquired it illegally.

      Porches are expensive – so if I steal one can I claim that I was just “responding to the desires” of their marketing department?

  7. TuneHunter

    Kevin Spacey has proper body language to take charge of the MUSIC INDUSTRY.

    There would be total excuse for BLOOD on his hands!

    Lets wake up boys at UNiversal .. and SOny! Warner you doing good! – grabbing new geographical zones is brilliant! Just take the boxing gloves and join Kevin in waking up your label friends!

  8. Ruzveh

    This is absolutely bullshit.. I stay in India and know 1000s of people around.. here no is knowing or talking about the House of cards. How can the gentlemen sitting there make a statement on indians? Is he God?

    • GGG

      Well, as you know, there’s 1.2 BILLION people in India, so even if you do know literally 1000 people, that’s not very many.

      Also, there’s this thing, perhaps you’ve heard of it, called the Internet. On it, one can track where things are downloaded/viewed.

  9. AG

    Kevin Spacey know your facts before you make unprecedented comments on “Indians”. What are you crying about saying Indians are stealing, if you have proof then present it to the law. Thats the reason why there are rules and government. Thats shady on your part accusing Indians stealing???? WTF dude, btw I live in US and i didnt even hear of your shitty house of cards….

  10. oh, the humanity!

    Poor pirates complaining that someone called them thieves, when they support things like the “pirate party” and the “pirate bay”…

  11. Chris

    Actually House of Cards is available in India on Zee Café so the excuse that it’s not available is total bollocks.

    Yet again pirates think that they simply have the right to take because something isn’t free everywhere immediately in their fantasy world where everything is produced free of charge and artists live on fresh air

    • jw

      There actually isn’t any proof that the show has been pirated in India… if it’s available on Zee Cafe, & has been since February, it sounds like Spacey just jumped to a conclusion & stuck his foot in his mouth.

      And in no scenario is Kevin Spacey living on fresh air. He got paid a very handsome sum up front.

      • Anonymous

        “And in no scenario is Kevin Spacey living on fresh air. He got paid a very handsome sum up front”

        So it’s cool to steal from him?

        You belong in the Soviet Union, jw.

        • jw

          That’s not what I said.

          Though I do think that widespread piracy is not a moral issue, I think it’s a natural correction of consumer expectations not being met by a content industry. Not in this case, however, since Netflix, though it has not launched in India, has licensed the show in India, which is an obvious explanation for the show’s popularity there. This is a good move because 1) it’s great pre-promotion for when they finally do launch (assuming that is in the works by Spacey’s use of “yet”), & 2) they’re being proactive about monetizing the show, which you absolutely have to be. They understand that consumer demand can’t be shored up until they get around to monetizing it.

          Netflix is doing pretty much everything right, from spectacular original content to licensing that original content to 4k streaming… they’re positioning themselves as a studio, so that they can make all of the right choices 1) for the consumers, 2) for themselves as a studio, & 3) for themselves as a distribution platform, & by doing so they not only show the other studios the way to properly navigate the technology, to some degree they pressure the other studios to make all the right choices.

          • Anonymous

            “I think it’s [IP theft] a natural correction of consumer expectations not being met by a content industry”

            Um, you could say that about all kinds of theft…

            Here’s a quick overview if you’re not familiar with the concept of Intellectual Property Theft:

            “It’s an age-old crime: stealing.

            But it’s not about picking a pocket or holding up a bank. It’s robbing people of their ideas, inventions, and creative expressions—what’s called intellectual property—everything from trade secrets and proprietary products and parts to movies and music and software.

            It’s a growing threat—especially with the rise of digital technologies and Internet file sharing networks. And much of the theft takes place overseas, where laws are often lax and enforcement more difficult. All told, intellectual property theft costs U.S. businesses billions of dollars a year and robs the nation of jobs and lost tax revenues.”

            SOURCE: FBI’s official web site.

          • jw

            You misquoted me. I wasn’t talking about IP theft, I was talking about widespread IP theft. That changes the meaning of the sentence significantly.

          • jw

            That was a correction, not a defense. You misrepresented me.

            You aren’t interested in the nuances of the debate. You aren’t interested in what makes the most business sense, or how to maximize revenue, or balancing the interest of all parties involved. You have no empathy for the consumer. You don’t care about their behavior trends or about understanding how technologies can solve problems that have long existed in the recorded music industry. You don’t care about statistics or facts or projections or corrections. You’re simply carrying the crusade that Lars Ulrich started at the turn of the century, a crusade that fetishizes traditional formats being abandoned by consumers, that relies on demonstrably immoral executives demanding moral behavior from consumers, that rests on confessed technologically ignorant executives trying to shape & control the evolution of technology. This is a cult-ish faith that some sort of cybercop Jesus is going to come down from the heavens with his mighty sword of cyberjustice, righting all the wrongs & ushering in the second lifetime of the compact disc. This is a crusade that is responsible for shrinking the recorded music industry by half.

            You & I are never going to see eye to eye, so I don’t feel the need to defend myself against your FBI copy & paste jobs. No matter what I say, you’re going to twist it into something that justifies your preconceived notions. You have selective hearing. You’re only looking for “facts” that can be construed to support your preconceptions, you aren’t in good faith trying to understand & solve the problems.

            So keep the faith or whatever, I don’t have any hope in changing your mind. Just, whatever you do, don’t misquote me.

          • Anonymous

            “You aren’t interested in what makes the most business sense”

            On the contrary — my sole objective here is to support modern business strategies that make sense to content creators.

            These strategies include streaming holdouts, anti-piracy services, etc.

            “or balancing the interest of all parties involved”

            Your problem is that you assume that criminal interests are valid and should be represented in the debate.

            “You’re simply carrying the crusade that Lars Ulrich started”

            Thank you, piracy would have cut down music sales and production by considerably more than 50% without people like Mr. Ulrich.

            “I don’t feel the need to defend myself against your FBI”

            I’m sure you don’t, but it’s in your interest to understand that FBI’s definition of Intellectual Property Theft reflect society’s view on the matter.

            We have laws against piracy because democratically elected politicians all over the world, across the entire political spectrum, agree that we shouldn’t allow criminals to destroy the basis of modern economy — Intellectual Property.

          • Anonymous

            Does intellectual property imply something actually intellectual or is it supposed to ironic?

          • FarePlay

            JW says:

            “You aren’t interested in the nuances of the debate. You aren’t interested in what makes the most business sense, or how to maximize revenue, or balancing the interest of all parties involved. You have no empathy for the consumer.”

            Where have I heard this before?

            “Though I do think that widespread piracy is not a moral issue, I think it’s a natural correction of consumer expectations not being met by a content industry.”

            Your core beliefs are showing.

          • Anonymous

            He’s right. This is the information age. We can not live in the 90s anymore. New technology (really in the last decade) has made it possible for people to access and share all the music ever made. Instantly. That means it should be possible to access and share all the music ever made. But no, we can’t allow that.

            That’s where the disconnected is. The music business hasn’t kept up to customer expectations or technological possibility. There is a strong desire to literally live in the past.

          • FarePlay

            Those who create original work are entitled to determine what happens with that work. Pretty basic really, unless you have no connection to YOUR right of personal privacy. Privacy and piracy are intertwined. You howl bloody murder if the government invades your space, what makes technology any different?

            Like you trust the tech industry to do the right thing?

          • Anonymous

            Pirates have to stop living in the past. This isn’t the 00’s anymore.

            A financial crisis happened and we can’t afford to lose billions to theft every year.

          • jw

            Fairplay – My core belief is whatever is best for the consumer & the artist. What I mean by that is providing the consumer with the best experience that technology allows for, & creating the most revenue possible for the artist.

            I’m not against copyright, not by any means, but I’m also not for using copyright as a crutch or as constraint. Copyright cannot be thought of as the end all, it has to be considered alongside technological progress. I also don’t believe that the average music fan is uncaring or devious or immoral. And I think it’s incredibly hypocritical for the music industry, of all industries, to hold consumers to a moral standard. Like outrageously hypocritical.

            This is, & has been since the turn of the century, an issue of gatekeeping, control, margins, & pricing structures. The music industry wants music fans to listen to as few songs as possible as often as possible… they make the most money that way. They want to decide what you listen to, & they want to sell you VIP concert tickets & lunch boxes & t-shirts & fan club access & all of that stuff… that’s how they make the most money. When a consumer is listening to hundreds of artists on Pandora & Spotify, rather than 40 artists on terrestrial radio & CDs/digital downloads, their production costs go up & their profit margins go down. They don’t want to give up control to the modern, pro-choice platforms that consumers have been demanding since Napster launched.

            Can a pro-consumer platform be good for artists? Well Pandora is fantastic for artists from a per-play perspective, despite what the PROs want to convince you. Of course, the wealth is being spread around… there’s not a concentration of payment to the elite songwriters who have the connections to get regular terrestrial airplay, so people won’t be getting filthy rich like they used to. But that’s a function of consumer choices, & I actually think it’s a good thing. Can Spotify be good for artists? Yes, but it’s going to take scale. But that’s our only option for ultimately making consumers happy & making the industry healthy again. Just look at Scandinavia. At that point music piracy takes care of itself, & goes back to being a tiny cost of doing business, like it was in the ’90s. Forcing consumers to regress, technologically, isn’t going to happen. It’s not an option. You have to meet them where they’re at. This isn’t a moral statement, it’s a practical statement.

            Your core belief, on the other hand, which is moral absolutism, is demonstrably ineffective, & has led to more lost revenue than anything in the history of the recorded music industry, as far as I can tell. What you don’t seem to realize is that the moral absolutism is simply a tool that record label executives are using to try & strong arm fans into participating in a legacy pricing structure that keeps their margins high & allows them to use antiquated marketing techniques to break bands. You buy into it because you’re self-righteous by nature, but you’re actually arguing against the interest of the consumer & in favor of dimwitted executives who have done irreparable damage to the art & the artists that we both love.

            I understand why you think that your core beliefs are superior to mine, but I think that they’re a product of short-sightedness. I believe that if you really saw the big picture, you would agree that copyright is incidental in this case, & that it doesn’t need to be exercised against the average consumer. Where you can simply meet the consumer’s expectation legally, & especially where that can be a very profitable system, that should be done.

            Basically what I’m saying is… everything in moderation. Copyright, especially.

          • Anonymous

            “it’s incredibly hypocritical for the music industry, of all industries, to hold consumers to a moral standard”

            The music industry doesn’t write the laws, jw.

            Democratically elected politicians all over the world, from the entire political spectrum, have decided that stealing intellectual property is a serious crime.

            You may not believe in democracy but that’s besides the point.

          • jw

            You’re right about that. Good point.

            I’ll let you lead the charge against all of the pot smoking musicians.

          • Anonymous

            Those who create original work are entitled to determine what happens with that work. Pretty basic really

            The King is entitled to make our laws and guard our realm. Pretty basic really.

            The world changes.

          • Anonymous

            “The world changes”

            Yes, and it can’t afford to lose billions to piracy every year anymore.

  12. Anonymous

    I do not authorize you to be reading this.
    You are stealing my intellectual property.
    I do not authorize you to be reading this.
    You are stealing my intellectual property.
    I do not authorize you to be reading this.
    You are stealing my intellectual property.
    I do not authorize you to be reading this.
    You are stealing my intellectual property.

  13. Anonymous

    I thought we were the ones who stole property from Indians.

  14. FarePlay

    JW “I understand why you think that your core beliefs are superior to mine, but I think that they’re a product of short-sightedness.”

    I don’t believe I am superior to anyone. You’re a bright guy, we just see things differently.

  15. MB

    My favorite thing about all of this is that people somehow manage to believe that piracy is a new thing that started with the internet. Also that people do not seem to draw distinctions between what they believe is “legal” or “illegal” copying. As far back as the boom box was invented and people could record music straight from the radio onto a tape cassette and then make mix tapes for the significant others. As soon as the beta machine came out that you could record movies, shows, and sports from television to watch at your leisure or years down the road and even loan to other people. To your current DVRs hooked up to televisions across the nation so while you are watching 1 of the 600 channels you have to choose from, that you can record several other shows you wanted to see or start recording a show but do other things and wait until the show is a good way in so you can fast forward through the commercial advertising that is paying to have that show broadcast to begin with. All of these are forgotten about or ignored by the righteous people above sporting how wrong these pirates are and are most likely criminals in their own respects if they do any of the such behavior list above, they just don’t want to admit it because it is a common convenience sold in the store. Well you can buy pot pipes in almost any cigar shop, it doesn’t make it legal to own and use the product that is supposed to be used in it.
    As for ISPs needing to be responsible for their users, and if the users are using proxies like even the most inept hacker would most likely know, then blocking Bit Torrent or other such sites IP addresses which probably already are in place, but useless as those are not the IPs that the downloads are coming from. If you do not have any technical savvy, do not offer suggestions on to how you would fix the world with such a simple solution. Coming from someone in the world of CIS, if it was that easy, it would have been done already.