'Weeds' Creator Deserves an Apology...From Me

by Paul William Tenny

weeds.jpgI wrote a story yesterday based on other material I found around the web, including a post on TV Squad, a site that was purchased by AOL/TimeWarner when they bought Weblogs Inc. from Jason Calacanis in 2005. I'm not blaming them for my error in judgment, only noting that they fell into the trap of jumping to conclusions just as I did, and they have far more strict policies on publishing and access to people to revise and research what they write about.

If they can foul it up, it's not surprise that I did.

Based on a cherry picked quote I found on TV Squad (sourced elsewhere), I published a story that chided Weeds showrunner Jenji Kohan for endorsing or condoning the piracy of her own show, and other shows as well. It's a serious accusation that I'm told has been repeated by at least one NBC-U executive against Kohan and Showtime, where Weeds is currently being aired. This was apparently discussed on an episode of G4's Attack of the Show! when two guests, an editor from Variety and TV Squad, were on the show last night.

I didn't see it and can't comment on what was said, yet I've been told by a friend of mine who reads this blog and also saw the episode in question that pretty much what I wrote here yesterday was what was said on G4 last night.

To be fair, what I said was irresponsible. The quote could be taken a couple of different ways depending on what was being discussed. There is no evidence either direct or otherwise that Kohan supports or condones piracy. In her own defense, Kohan left a comment on my story rightfully accusing me of repeating rumors without proof, and not giving her a chance to comment.

When I wrote a story a couple of weeks ago about a TelevisionWeek reporter who admitted to downloading a number of this falls leaked pilots over file sharing networks - an obvious act of willful copyright infringement - I gave TVWeek's editor a chance to comment before publishing. I should have done the same thing here, even though it probably would have been impossible to find the necessary contact information. Not everyone has their email address and phone number plastered on an 'about' or 'contact us' page someplace and my resources are so limited as to be considered non-existent, but that's still not an excuse for lobbing accusations and condemning the language from someone without knowing for sure what it was they were trying to say.

Intellectual Property piracy is very serious business. Advertisers are spending less money due to people skipping commercials with DVRs, while consumers seek out free but illegal alternatives like file sharing. With the looming strike, there couldn't be a worse time for piracy to come to the forefront.

Because I haven't asked for or received prior permission, I won't reprint the email I received in reply to a letter I wrote this morning. Paraphrasing, Kohan said with complete clarity that she does not condone the piracy of her show, or anyone else's. Her comment in which she said she "if I had my druthers, the whole thing would be available right now" was a reference to legal download services, not filesharing,

To be clear, her comments appeared to be addressing the leaking of several early episodes for the new season of Weeds, which were sent out for promotional purposes to the press. She is indifferent to those appearing online, which I assume is where the confusion between indifference to the leaking of press material and outright seasonal piracy began. I can understand and I definitely think there is an argument to be made that there is little difference between the two, that illicit copying is still illicit copying, but that is not the point.

I still believe that anyone who condones piracy of any kind for any reason is acting irresponsibly and should be challenged over their actions, and if I see anything of the sort in the future, I will continue to do so.

I published accusations without getting the facts, as did others, but others are not me so the burden is on me to apologize for it.

I'm sorry. I screwed up.

This is a great lesson not to open your mouth when you don't know what you're talking about, one I will take to heart heading into the future. Go buy some Weeds and make Jenji Kohan an appropriately rich person today. Nothing will guarantee more of your favorite TV shows than buying DVDs and actually watching the darn thing when it airs on the tube. In the days of too much brainless reality-tv crap, we could use more shows like this one on the air any legal way we can get it.


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