->''"I don't like the idea of something existing if I can't get a copy of it."''
-->--'''[[WebVideo/TheCinemaSnob Brad Jones]]''', ''DVD-R Hell''.

There once was a show. YouKnowThatShow. It was a really good show. Or maybe it was [[SoBadItsGood something else]]; it's just as likely that it's the NostalgiaFilter speaking. Still, you'd love to relive the memories, and share it with your friends.

One problem: It's impossible.

Watch reruns? Record them? Of course you would... if it were on.

Buy the DVD? You'd already have it on pre-order... if it existed.

Watch it online? You'd bookmark it in a second... until the company that owns the series threatens the video provider with legal consequences unless they remove the content.

What's a fan to do? It isn't that you're setting out to break copyright law... you'd be more than happy to pay to acquire it legally! At the same time, though, you realize that the market is too niche for a super-deluxe bells-and-whistles compilation DVD to be justifiably profitable... no matter how many online petitions your forum sends.

Keep Circulating The Tapes (a phrase attributed to ''Series/MysteryScienceTheater3000'') is an option of last resort. It's when a show you like is denied to you, except through methods of questionable legality shady file-sharing sites, tape trading/buying... it's either that, or the show's likely to be LostForever outside of fan recordings and film company archives. It's also the rule rather than the exception for video games and other non-simple media, to the point where the {{Abandonware}} concept and {{emulation}} were created to bring common sense into the situation (the VirtualConsole, PlaystationNetwork, [=GameTap=], {{Steam}}, [[http://www.gog.com/en/frontpage/ GOG.com]], and to a smaller extent XboxLiveArcade are finally starting to remedy this situation with games, but it's still a long way to go).

''Try'' not to be angry that you can get the complete ''Series/TheBradyBunch Variety Hour'', ''Series/VanPires'', ''WesternAnimation/{{The PJs}}'', ''WesternAnimation/RobotAndMonster'', and ''Series/{{TJ Hooker}}'' on DVD but not ''WesternAnimation/MuppetBabies'', WesternAnimation/WhateverHappenedToRobotJones'', ''WesternAnimation/TheMarvelousMisadventuresOfFlapjack'', ''WesternAnimation/KaBlam'', the 1960s ''Series/{{Batman}}'', or almost any music video of Music/TheBeatles.

After steam stops shooting out of your ears, the question you're asking is probably... why? Well, a typical answer is that the television companies (correctly or incorrectly) don't think there's enough of a market for it to be worth releasing them, but it's not always their fault... ''directly''. An all-too-common cause is music rights. ''WesternAnimation/MissionHill'' halfway fell victim to this with the show released to DVD, but the most of the popular music was omitted and replaced with Countdown Singers-esque soundalikes. ''WesternAnimation/BabyBlues'' wasn't as lucky as its DVD may never see the light of day due to the theme being "Its All Been Done" by The Music/BarenakedLadies. Royalties play a large part in it.

...This requires some explanation.

The tape circulators could've probably hazarded a guess, but ''absolutely '''nobody''''' else saw the TV-on-DVD boom coming. TV on {{VHS}} had been tried, sure, but it wasn't even barely successful for even music-compilation heavyweights like Time-Life and Columbia House for several reasons:

# The cost of the tapes.
# The outrageous amounts of shelf space needed for even '''one''' season of a series; a 22-episode season of an hour-long series needed eleven VHS tapes to fit on, though two-per-tape was the standard even for 22-minute-without-commercials shows (for which five episodes could fit on a two-hour tape), which even carried over into some DVD releases. This despite the fact that a VHS tape is capable of holding as much as 8 hours of footage on it.
# The fragile nature of the format, allowing for a $300 investment to be ruined by a hungry VCR or a fridge magnet.
# Up to the early 2000s, [[EditedForSyndication television syndicators]] did all they could to keep the public from buying a television series, basically so channels would continue to see reruns as valuable and pull in {{ratings}}. As a result, only Creator/{{PBS}} documentaries were offered.

Even after the first wave started (thank HBO, specifically ''Series/TheSopranos'', for popularizing [[IncrediblyLamePun this wonderful thing of ours]]), they didn't sell nearly as well as they do now because of their frankly ''outrageous'' prices compared to today's. Additionally, copyright law is [[CalvinBall low, spooky voodoo]], and licensing something like a song for your show, licensing it for reruns, and licensing it for home video are not the same thing. And nobody wanted to pay more money for something that they would, in all likelihood, never use ([[ItWillNeverCatchOn "Television shows? On home video?]] ''[[ItWillNeverCatchOn By the season?]]'' [[ItWillNeverCatchOn Nonsense."]]). So here we are.

These situations are usually caused by licensing issues (Performance Licensing and Reproduction Licensing). In a nutshell, performance licensing is much easier to obtain (the licensing agencies get 3% of the DVD's revenue, in exchange for letting the distributors use a performance). Reproduction licensing is much more difficult to obtain, and can often involve long drawn-out negotiations with rights holders (sometimes many at once, and much worse if it was an older work that used many unlicensed tracks or clips). There are ways to get around these snags - cover versions of songs are considerably easier to get clearance for, and offending clips can sometimes be removed without impacting the narrative. Of course, if the show ''has'' no song rights issues, and the copyright holder's threatening legal action over your online copies of a show they haven't allowed you to buy legally... resume violent rage.

Compare NoExportForYou. May also happen as the net result of ScrewedByTheNetwork, especially while new episodes of said show are airing elsewhere. Whatever the reason, if the show has a small but sizable fanbase, these fans turn to the internet when any of these occurs, and if there's no official DVD release... well, their cries for help are heard by sympathizers and this Trope results. See also TheShelfOfMovieLanguishment.

'''IMPORTANT NOTICE:''' When posting a show, if you know where the show can be illegally obtained, don't post it. Just say that copies exist out there on the Internet, and leave it at that. (Think of it this way; if the link becomes too popular, it might get taken down.)

And please accept our apologies if you [[IThoughtItMeant thought]] this Trope was about [[Literature/TheRing a certain creepy woman in a well]].
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!!Examples
[[index]]
* KeepCirculatingTheTapes/AnimeAndManga
* KeepCirculatingTheTapes/{{Comics}}
* KeepCirculatingTheTapes/FanWorks
* KeepCirculatingTheTapes/{{Film}}
* KeepCirculatingTheTapes/{{Literature}}
* KeepCirculatingTheTapes/LiveActionTV
* KeepCirculatingTheTapes/{{Music}}
* KeepCirculatingTheTapes/{{Magazines}}
* KeepCirculatingTheTapes/NewMedia
* KeepCirculatingTheTapes/{{Radio}}
* KeepCirculatingTheTapes/{{Software}}
* KeepCirculatingTheTapes/{{Sports}}
* KeepCirculatingTheTapes/TabletopGames
* KeepCirculatingTheTapes/VideoGames
* KeepCirculatingTheTapes/{{Webcomics}}
* KeepCirculatingTheTapes/WebOriginal
* KeepCirculatingTheTapes/WesternAnimation
* [[KeepCirculatingTheTapes/{{Rescued}} Works that were rescued after a stint in limbo.]]
[[/index]]
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