Anti Piracy
& Anti Counterfeit Blog

7 reasons pirates are losing the digital copyright war

Posted by Laura Urquizu on Wednesday, Aug 30, 2017

Many rights owners now view copyright infringement as an inevitability, but we think otherwise - here’s 7 reasons why pirates will lose the copyright war:

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Gone are the simple Napster days: today digital piracy is affecting almost every type of content that can be made digital. From software to art to comic books to apps, pirated on streaming sites, torrents, cyberlockers, piracy apps and more, many rights owners are starting to treat piracy as an inevitability; a loss percentage of total revenue.

<<Free Ebook: Millennials and Piracy trends>>

But is it true that piracy is inevitable? Here at Red Points we believe that we can still defeat piracy, or at least limit it to negligible levels, where anti-piracy approaches are innovative, targeted and durable. Here’s 8 examples of anti-piracy trump cards that are changing the game for good:

1. Education

Copyright piracy was added to the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) in 2015, meaning that copyright education will be implemented in the curriculum taught in public schools across the US. This move supported by a variety of stakeholders within music and textual publishing, and will place a focus on safeguarding principles such as ‘Fair Use’, which allows copyrighted works to be used and modified for certain purposes, such as in educational settings and for reviews. Delivered well, this type of education could form an ethical standard in the pupils it reaches, reforming habits and expectations in a new generation.

Education has also been a priority in various campaigns led by governments and anti-piracy groups, and in particular the resources that share content legally and cheaply or for free. Website initiatives like Get it Right and Find any Film have been leveraged as legal search engines for content.

2. Anti-piracy groups

Anti-piracy groups that strive to protect creators by enforcing copyright are now commonplace in most countries. They receive much governmental support which has helped them to make an impact in legal cases. Significant groups include British FACT and Dutch BREIN, who have gone as far as taking one seller of a piracy-enabled set top box to the European Court of Justice, causing the shutdown of 200 other illegal media player sellers in the process.

There have also been a few high-profile coalitions between media companies, often with the support of the MPAA. One such group, ACE, formed earlier this year and saw rivals Disney and Netflix team up with 28 other global media giants including Village Roadshow, Amazon, Warner Bros. and more.

3. Legal enforcement

Legal battles to curb piracy have been plentiful, and have seen different outcomes. One landmark Canadian Supreme Court case this summer gave courts the right to compel search engines to remove illegal search listings from their results. Google have since fired back, filing a US lawsuit that claims the ruling violated the First Amendment. Debates on whether limiting access to infringing content is censorship are current in politics and law. Whilst we can’t say with any certainty which way the decision will go, it’s apparent that copyright law is gradually adapting for a digital age, and more landmark decisions will be reached to protect IP online.

There have also been legal battles with individual piracy websites. Where Popcorn Time and The Pirate Bay prevail still, Torrentz, YTS, Megaupload and KickAssTorrents have all been closed down for good. ISPs around the world have been forced to deny access to many pirate sites including streaming sites, with a recent case allowing ISPs to block The Pirate Bay across Europe. There are ways to circumvent such restrictions, but casual or unaware users will surely be discouraged.

Other newer forms of piracy are being addressed: crackdowns on Kodi and Roku, media players that can be loaded with piracy software, have been actioned globally. In the UK, Kodi the app has been banned on Amazon with several sellers of physical ‘Kodi boxes’ arrested, whilst in Mexico Roku devices have been banned outright for significant levels of infringing content.

4. Advertising cuts

There have been efforts to stop major brands advertising on piracy apps and websites, but these alone are likely to have little effect on these platforms’ revenue, although adverts on illegal sites will doubtless become more annoying as a result.

A recent, and seemingly unintentional, change in piracy will occur with Google Chrome’s ad blocker, announced in early June. The ad blocker, like AdBlock, will only block intrusive advertising such as pop-ups and videos that auto-play sound. As piracy sites and apps tend toward this type of advertising and the majority of web users use Google Chrome, a knock-on effect is likely to be realised where ad revenue from torrent sites and the like is severely damaged. Unless users donate to websites (with money they could instead put towards an OTT service), many piracy sites will likely to forced to close.

5. OTT services

Over-the-top (OTT) services like Netflix are now widely available, and are evidently making their dent in piracy. Even in China people have begun to pay for music thanks to streaming services, and globally record lows have been recorded in monitored piracy following popularity of Netflix, Spotify and other subscription services

There are fears that Netflix may increase piracy by setting impossible expectations for on-demand content, but streaming sites are endeavouring to stay one step ahead: by customising their business plans in line with piracy trends, tailoring content and prices to each market’s online activity. This ingenious strategy cannot fail to satisfy consumer demands, so that legitimate sources will have more to offer than legality.

6. Anti-piracy software

Digital solutions are increasingly being developed to respond to digital piracy, and as technology becomes more advanced these are bound to make waves. Digital watermarking have traditionally been used to locate sources of movie piracy, but pirates have found ways to overcome watermarks. Thus it is vital that anti-piracy technological approaches are consistently adapted to keep up with new piracy methods.

Automatic copyright filters or ‘copyright bots’ are already used by platforms like Facebook and YouTube to detect infringements of audio files and offer rights holders the choice to either monetise on or remove infringing content.

Anti-piracy efforts using the blockchain are also being tried by a few tech startups, using methods including permanent 'fingerprinting' of movie files and also encouraging pirates to reveal the sources of pirated files with hidden bitcoin bounties.

7. Brand protection services

Today movie piracy is more concerned with streaming than torrents, and these can be hard to combat thanks to the legally-grey area they often fall into within copyright law - generally, it is legal for websites to link to video hosts of infringing content, and as long as these video hosts comply with DMCA takedown requests they are in the clear too.

However, some content is being protected by brand protection services which detect infringements and action takedowns, and it is almost impossible to locate streams of protected content. As availability of illegal content is limited and legal alternatives are pushed and refined, younger internet users will turn away from pirating content and a long-term solution is finally found.

Take a look at how the Red Points Brand Protection service combines AI technology, expert analysts and legal support into an advanced technical solution that protects rights owners across a plethora of industries. You can also take advantage of our free eBook to learn more about how piracy is changing, and why anti-piracy efforts need to keep up:

About the author

Laura Urquizu

Post Written by Laura Urquizu

The Red Points CEO, Laura has over 20 years experience as an executive and board director in banking, venture capital and start-ups. She has worked with companies like Arthur Andersen, Caja Navarra, Corporación CAN and Inspirit. Laura is a respected expert in the start-up field and Innovation based businesses.