Legal does not necessarily mean objectively right and too much greed can cause so much damage, the endless courtroom bickering buries common sense with so much shit, nobody gets a fair slice of the pie, and this case is no exception. And it is not just the usual suspects, the overweening record companies, holding things up but the show itself is being squabbled over by two or three seperate corporations (the company who made the actual show are different to the company that owns the character of Batman and the comic books etc).
Different parties are trying to cheat each other, but an impatient consumer base will ultimately cheat them all by downloading the fought over show themselves.
You've hit the nail on the head. You'll find the occasional consumer who'll say "ooh, I don't want to cheat anyone out of profits" but 99.999% of us don't care. We want product and if the company won't give it to use, and if there is an alternative
, we'll take it.
For example, here in Canada (and I believe in the US as well), the Harry Potter novels were published in both adult and child editions. When Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows came out, it was released as an adult HC and child's HC. A couple years later when they finally decided to release the paperback edition, they decided to only release the child's edition in paperback, which was annoying to those of use who'd collected the (generally less expensive) adult editions. I found out that the UK publisher, who issued the same adult editions, did put out a paperback in the adult edition. So as a result the Canadian (in my case) publisher, and the bookstore, lost the sale because I ordered the adult paperback from Amazon.co.uk. They refused to provide the product I wanted, there was an alternative, and I took it.
In the case of Batman, the people involved have now lost 3 (actually more) generations of home video formats in which they could and would have made a ton of money, more than enough to pay for the cameos (what formats? VHS, Videodisc, DVD, and now likely Blu-Ray).
All this said, bear in mind that two other "never to be ever released" series, Bionic Woman and Six Million Dollar Man, are set for release as early as this fall. The impossible can happen, so I can only hope someone gets their act together with regards to the original Batman before enough people who actually have an interest in watching the show are still alive to purchase them.
And, on a dead serious note, I'd really like to see a release happen while Adam West, Julie Newmar, and some of the other surviving cast are still alive and able to provide commentaries, etc. The lawyers have already cost us the chance to hear Frank Gorshin's comments by delaying things too long.