Cure for the Common Pirate: 3 Ways to Curb Internet Media Piracy

Burnin and Lootin 2

When The Pirate Bay went down on December 14, 2014 it was an uninspiring event. There weren’t riots in streets like there were in 2006, and there wasn’t a huge amount of surprise from the Pirate Bay team. In fact, the whole ordeal was handled with a civility that was unheard of for an event which should have “broken the internet”.

One would believe that the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and other agencies who were looking to introduce site blocking technologies would be rejoicing at the fact that the single largest, most iconic, P2P torrent site was taken offline. Although this was a positive, albeit potentially temporary, step in the fight against anti-piracy, the true issue isn’t that The Pirate Bay was taken down; it is that that within mere days fellow piracy sites were more than happy to accommodate the overflow of pirates looking to acquire the latest games, videos and music. In fact, one provider launched the site “oldpiratebay.org” to capitalize on the Pirate Bay brand.

To truly curb piracy and to reduce the transfer of copyrighted material, it would be more pertinent to identify why individuals are choosing to pirate materials rather than merely impose laws that ban the practice.

Piracy

Maybe it’s worth looking at piracy as the consequence of a problem, not the problem itself.

                               Image Source: “Piracy“, Tobias Vemmenby, Flickr Creative Commons (Attribution 2.0 Generic)

But Why Do Pirates Pirate? Here Are 3 Reasons For ‘Why Piracy’

Foremost, to curb pirates, we must understand why they are stealing the material. Is it only a matter of cost, or are there other factors which contribute to torrenting?

I would contend that cost is only part of the issue, the remainder consisting of poor service and lack of availability.

1) Not Releasing Things Universally Across Regions

In many cases, people pirate because the materials they are looking for are not available quickly enough. To illustrate, season 3 of the hit television show Sherlock premiered in the U.K. on January 1, 2014 and entertained 11.24 million viewers. However, the U.S. audience would have to wait another 19 days before the show premiered on channels they could access.

This time gap promotes piracy. If the content was available universally at the same release date, then people would feel less inclined to violate copyright laws to watch the much anticipated show.

2)  Not Providing Legal, Reliable and Fast Online Streaming Services

In addition, if adequate services, allowing access to popular content in a timely fashion, were provided for a reasonable price, people may be willing to pay for the service and to support the movie industry. It is this notion which has made services such as Netflix so successful. eV Renée of the No Film School notes that “since Netflix launched in Canada 3 years ago, BitTorrent is down 50%, possibly indicating that the free P2P platforms are being foregone for the easy-to-use Netflix platform” (2013). Not only is this a step in the right direction to protecting copyrighted material, but it has proven that people are willing to pay for reliable, fast service.

3) Not Keeping Up with the Latest Technology

Are film distribution methods relying on outdated technologies?

Are film distribution methods relying on outdated technologies?

                     Image Source: “every time you torrent….“, Claire Rowland, Flickr Creative Commons (Attribution 2.0 Generic)

Furthermore, to better address the issue of availability, the movie industry needs to adapt to the technology that people are using. The industry is currently set on releasing movies to BlueRay and DVD format. While services such as RedBox are trying to address the availability deficit by having DVDs and BlueRay rentals available in common places such as gas stations and grocery stores, they are too slow to provide the latest movies and only carry a limited selection. Why should a person wait 3 months to rent a movie when they could find a copy of it the day after it is released? And, the customer then needs to worry about viewing and returning the film within the deadline rather than watching the film at their own convenience. Instead, major production companies should be working to create a service where new releases can be downloaded or streamed the day that they come out on DVD. While this might not curb pirating altogether, it does make copyrighted material much easier to access.

Moreover, it addresses some of the issues faced by other popular video streaming services such as Netflix with respect to obtaining licensing rights in order to provide streaming of the film. We live in an age where consumers want what they want when they want it. As of now, torrenting media and loading it to various mobile and computer devices fills this demand with little effort required by the end user. The industry needs to be more inventive in order to replace this demand with a more accessible and convenient network.

While torrenting may never be shut down as easily as the current Pirate Bay was, steps can be taken to deter pirates from resorting to downloading illegal content.

Cover Image Source: “Burnin’ and Lootin‘”, Brett Jordan, Flickr Creative Commons (Attribution 2.0 Generic)

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About: Tracey McKenna

Tracey McKenna is a communications professional who graduated with a Masters in Literary Studies, specializing in adaptation theory, from the University of Waterloo. Her experiences include preparing literary reviews, research papers, critiques and various forms of business communication. With a penchant for writing and keeping up with trends, she is excited to join the IPEye team and to create articles which explore the realm of IP and emerging markets, particularly regarding education and media.

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