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What exactly is online data piracy? And, why is it such a huge crime? Almost every nation has its own set of rules to limit the impact of piracy.
But are we, as consumers, understand the actual implications of downloading copyrighted content and sharing it with friends and family? Piracy is nothing new.
However, with easy access to the internet, anyone can now become a part of this offense, knowingly or unknowingly.
So, how about finding out what the term ‘Online Data Piracy’ means and how to fight against such an immoral act.
Online Data piracy means copying copyrighted content available online such as music, videos, software, and whatnot and distributing it at a cheaper rate or for free.
Despite piracy being illegal in almost every country, it still is in practice. And, as technology advances, the barriers to piracy keep clearing up.
While we are making better online surfing features for our consumers, it is becoming difficult to filter piracy activities.
The question is: How deeper is the impact of online data piracy, and how faster is it growing among us? And, what haunts the data managers is that as long as data is shared and available online, online data piracy won’t stay away.
However, one can limit its growth and subsequently plummet it until it stops bothering the nations’ social and economic setup.
Table of Contents
Introduction to Online Data Piracy
The unauthorized duplication of content restricted to be owned by an individual(s) or a group(s) leads to piracy.
It could be carried online as well as offline.
For instance, a few years back, the copyrighted movies were hugely distributed among consumers, saved on a CD.
The original CD was copied to different other CDs and sold at a much cheaper rate.
Although the video quality suffered miserably, the market boomed.
This is mostly because of the cheap rates of these copyrighted CDs, sold at less than one-tenth price of the original ones.
This entire process was still tedious and required huge efforts. Later came the torrent websites.
These again were directly accessible to the consumers and offered free videos and audios.
Apart from the difficulty in finding the correct torrent link, these also imposed issues with the video quality.
But consumers did enjoy downloading tons of movies for free and watched whenever wanting to.
Governments from around the globe did realize that the act would lead to something very unprofitable to the entertainment industry and banned the use of such websites offering torrents.
Soon after, the app-based streaming options surfaced.
And, guess what, these made it even simpler for pirates to steal data and share it even more effortlessly. Plus, the pirated content now available is of good quality as well.
Isn’t it clear from the example that the technology advancements resulted in higher chances of online data piracy?
However, we cannot press the rewind button, can we?
The good news is that the countries are trying their best to formulate the strictest anti-piracy laws to ensure that these acts stop causing troubles that are considered enough to result in economic losses.
Types of Online Piracy
With time, the number of users accessing the internet is surging. While a few years back, the usage was not widely spread, with the introduction of broadband and mobile data connection, the accessibility has increased manifold.
According to a survey alone in the US, the percentage of the population using the internet to access content was recorded as 85.4% in 2019, which is expected to reach 87.2% by 2025.
Almost 284 million internet users in the USA use the web by different means, including laptops, mobile phones, and various other digital devices.
Although that is not a matter of concern, the problem lies in how people progress towards accessing illegal pirated content.
The DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act), the law designed to restrict the growth of digital piracy, was formed in 1998.
And, as per the prevailing situation, it won’t be incorrect to deem that digital piracy has become even stronger than ever.
The copyright holders face much more trouble because of online piracy than they faced in 1998.
As per the research done by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Global Innovation Policy Center, there are almost 26.6 billion illegal views of movies directed in the US, along with 126.7 billion pirated views of TV episodes released in the US every year.
Even worse, the economic impact of digital video piracy is much more than the movie or even television industries.
Digital video piracy costs a minimum of $29.2 billion in domestic revenues.
So, why are the online users committing the crime without taking any responsibility for the same?
It is most convenient to copy content rather than paying a hefty subscription amount for different streaming sites.
What Are the Different Types of Online Piracy?
There has been an increase in digital online piracy because of the handsome revenue these pirates earn.
To provide pirate sites a legal cover, these criminals make use of advertisements on their platforms.
However, this does have another benefit to the criminals as well.
By using the ads, these pirates earn lucrative income. If you look at the 2014 report, the statistics will shock you completely.
According to this report, the top pirate sites earn almost $227 million only with the ads they publish on their website.
The story does not end here…
These pirate websites also carry malware and online threats for users.
Almost every 3 in 4 users have to face problems like credit card scams or malware attacks.
Hence, it is important to understand the various types of online piracy that exist.
This would enable users to stay informed and keep such online threats at bay.
Online Streaming Websites
Starting with the most usual type of piracy, the online streaming website is responsible for a high percentage of illegal content access.
In the year 2017, more than 73.9 billion visits have been recorded for illegally accessing music. Apart from that, 53.2 billion visits happened to stream movies.
It becomes easy to access content using the streaming sites, hence justifying the huge user presence.
One does not have to download the video.
Rather, by simply streaming it online, one can watch videos or listen to music. There are two ways these websites work.
You may either get direct streaming from the website itself.
Or, you may be redirected to the link where the site hosts the video.
And, with time, these websites are becoming highly user-friendly.
Sometimes, users could not make a difference between legal and illegal choices.
The videos are divided into genres, languages, and various other filters.
P2P Online Data Piracy
What is a P2P network?
Peer to Peer networks is a connection of multiple computers connected over the web.
Hence, the sharing of files takes place without a need for a central server.
In other words, every computer or node connected within a P2P network works as a client and the server.
Using the same technology, illegal content is shared between peers. One copy of the digital file moves from one node to another.
And that too, without having a central node for the same.
The transfer of files becomes easier in such an arrangement of nodes.
And, there aren’t just a few computers connected to the P2P network.
On the contrary, there are millions of nodes present from around the world.
The other biggest problem that comes with P2P sharing is the default setting of the network.
This allows the users to upload the content every time they download a digital file.
Hence, involving every user in sharing illegal content online.
In such a scenario, one can even expose the private files to strangers when permitting access to public ones.
Another type of online piracy happens through Cyberlockers. These are file storage and sharing services.
And includes all kinds of content to store and share.
Starting from photos to videos to audio files, you can share various types of content using Cyberlockers.
What makes these services stand out is their fast and convenient file sharing protocols.
Plus, users can stay anonymous when distributing content.
One can download as well as a stream using these services.
The services are up for a subscription, making these criminals earn huge income through pirated content.
As the name suggests, these sites are a hub to hundreds and thousands of links to pirated content often saved on the cyberlockers.
These websites are very useful in locating the hidden content available on the internet, cyberlockers being unsearchable.
Almost everyone knows about torrent sites.
These have been quite popular before broadband came in.
Even with not so fast internet connection, users depend on torrent sites to download illegal content.
But did you know that film groups create torrents for sharing content using their private torrent sites?
While the websites relying on the members’ donations.
However, with many pirates out there, the content on the private torrents easily turns to the public torrent sites.
Making the content illegally available for anyone to use and download.
Once again, these public torrent websites are a hub for malware and viruses.
Still, users visit them for free content, participating indirectly in data piracy.
Societal Economics of Digital Piracy
Consider different social strata thinking about consuming digitally pirated content:
1) Downloading one song from a file-sharing site instead of paying for it just because the artist is a multi-millionaire, the person downloading the song thinks the artist doesn’t need their hard-earned cash.
And therefore chooses to listen to the song free, not only when it plays on the radio, but also whenever she or she wants. Or share it with one’s friends and get credit for it?
2) Why buy expensive movie tickets and go to see them in the theater? Why not wait till it gets pirated or even watch a copy of new movies before they even hit the theaters?
3) Paying dollars for buying software? Rather download it free and pay a few bucks to get the authentication codes.
Statistics of the conducted studies
- According to the Business Software Alliance, 59 billion dollars worth of software was stolen by digital pirates worldwide in 2010. Speaking specifically about a demographic, USA, 20% of all software installations in 2010 were not real but pirated copies costing the software industry 9.5 billion dollars.
- 95% of the music downloaded in 2010, says a survey by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, was illegally downloaded. This was a fall in making digital music from 25% to 12% between 2008 and 2010. The point to be noted here is the increasing anti-piracy legislation and low-cost services that allowed consumers to download individual songs from streaming platforms. Another shocking figure is global sales in the music industry that have fallen 30% over the past five years and the whooping 940 percent rise in digital music.
The strictness of the legal law enforcement in various nations:
Below mentioned are some of the typical laws in place in various countries to stop digital piracy.
Japan holds the award for enforcing the strictest law enforcement in the field of digital piracy.
Under the controversial ACTA treaty, the law threatens infringers with throttled internet speeds.
There is a 2 million Yen fine with up to 2 years in prison for downloading.
The number of years increases to 10 for uploading.
Theoretically, this is speaking of the law, but jail time has rarely been awarded for downloading only in practice.
The noteworthy point is, VPNs are not currently illegal in Japan, and in fact, many websites advise torrenters for using VPNs to bypass copyright laws.
These are used to change users’ geolocation, and it is because of this, it is impossible to ascertain how many users would exactly be circumventing laws through this means.
Germany is another country that has strict anti-piracy laws, apart from everything else, at least for torrenting.
They are often hit with fines between €300 – €1000 for downloading a single movie.
But trends in Germany reveal that the place where torrenting flounders, streaming thrives.
The scenario is evident in Germany, where the popular streaming site Movie4k claims 59.7% of its visitors.
UK: UK has its medium-strict approach for enforcing copyright law, which tends to monitor P2P networks. It lays pressure on ISPs to block sites and send warnings to infringers.
Sites like The Pirate Bay have already been blocked by the 5 biggest ISPs of the UK in the follow-up of a 2012 court case. The UK also has anti-piracy groups like FACT, which work on prosecuting the offenders.
Apart from groups, government education programmers like the Creative Content UK (CCUK) have launched torrenting alert letters in a campaign called ‘Get it Right.’
However, a study in the nation reveals how 72% of the total UK broadband users believe that the warnings will fail, as there is still no real penalty to the infringer.
Speaking of the United States, they had launched the program Six Strikes program in 2011. This program pledged for not only following notices but also implementing penalties like throttling internet speeds temporarily.
Very soon, the bluff of this program was called, and after six strikes, the pirates never received any penalty. And so the digital pirates continued to do what they were doing, and then, eventually, the program was ultimately dropped in January.
Piracy in the US is as increasing as anywhere else; Hollywood is taking notice of this increase.
Attempts by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) aims to end advertising applications that are pirated.
The organization has made other significant efforts during the years, like advocating for controversial SOPA and PIPA bills.
They recently supported the global coalition ACE, which sees rivals like Netflix and Disney uniting against piracy.
Among the list of countries where downloading copyrighted works is allowed for personal use, Switzerland.
The country where laws benefit and protect torrenters and prohibit third parties from monitoring peer-to-peer networks.
Although digital pirating is not completely allowed there, it is illegal to upload a file for torrenting.
Describing the Netherlands, piracy there is rampant, copyright law and enforcement is similarly careful.
The Anti-piracy group BREIN has recently begun making waves and famously bringing one piracy box seller to the European Court of Justice.
Another instance is the case between BREIN and internet service providers Ziggo and XS4ALL, where the ruling given by The European Court of Justice says that the ISPs must block The Pirate Bay.
Everything of this sort suggests that other sites previously found not to be liable for their index content.
Examples of those sites include Google, which is told to be at risk.
The Spanish copyright law considers every intent to profit from torrenting or otherwise infringing on a copyright.
It should be noted that Spain has the fifth-highest rate of piracy worldwide.
Almost a quarter of internet users visiting piracy sites are from Spain.
Canada, Brazil, and India:
Whilst countries like Canada, Brazil, and India have ultra-lax copyright laws and/or enforcement.
They have been placed on the US International Trade Administration’s (ITA) watch list for their poor behavior in enforcing Intellectual Property.
More than 35 percent of films watched in India go through the problem of digital piracy.
Whereas Canada “does not recognize” a piracy problem.
They point to researcher bias in the ITA, which as per the argument given by them, relies “on allegations from US industry stakeholders.”
This country has the biggest problem with piracy in the world.
Many European governments have given their best by bringing significant changes to the EU copyright law, and because of this reason, they are currently being voted on.
The controversy is something these changes have met and not appreciated.
Europe is a classic example of how tricky the problem of combatting piracy today is.
And how it cannot be done without breaching privacy or ‘censoring the internet.
Digging into it a little would tell you that just as Google can link to illegal sites without risking liability, the sites that it links to are frequently indexers of video hosters akin to Youtube.
And therefore, there is nothing else but equally immune as intermediaries, and any efforts to change this have been fiercely opposed.
Many EU countries have also made efforts to educate younger generations on this threat of digital piracy and challenge innovation and creativity.
They have been recommending legal ways to consume on-demand content. Still, the question here lies, will these recommendations be enough to stop a new generation from taking advantage of no-risk, free, on-demand content?
The chances are that until such legislation is drawn up, one that can reflect the changing relationship that any creative work must have with the internet, legislation that benefits creators and users equally, there is a need for a stop-gap for recovering recover IP from instances of infringement.
Despite attempts by the nations to take strict actions against piracy, pirates come up with circumvention techniques.
So, the laws that are used against piracy are easily broken by pirates in the field.
Although Piracy in Japan is not easily traceable, a quick internet search can tell you certainly that it happens there too.
Possible Reasons behind the existence of Digital Piracy
There is always an ongoing debate amongst people about the availability of digital content for free and chargeable.
Not everyone who uses the internet is a computer pirate.
From the ones using it, most people abide by the laws and pay for the content they consume, irrespective of its price.
However, there isn’t a lack of users who believe that software, movies, music, and games should be freely available.
This leads to confusion in the system, and Piracy can be said as a bridge that exists in between.
It connects the other side of the audience and brings them by satisfying their say on digital content.
Here are some of the other such specifics reasons:
1) As mentioned above, the most common reason for digital piracy is the unwillingness to pay. People, you, me, anyone love things that are available for free.
Websites like Torrent and P2P sharing make it easier than ever to download content that’s available for some cost, free.
Such platforms let you obtain everything from software to movies and books for free.
And the fact that it doesn’t take much time to download those links is just more convenient.
2) There is also a huge audience out there who does this out of necessity. They want to consume the content, but they cannot afford it. They have no other option to reach out to the source rather than Piracy. They download illegally due to financial hardship because they cannot afford to buy it.
3) Then, this amazing audience runs on a specific belief that companies have enough money already. The purchasing content by paying for it makes not much difference to the company. Anyways, others are paying it, so they decide to slide away from it. This gives them a right to distribute to the less fortunate freely and gives everyone a chance to enjoy or use it.
They hire some hackers or are one. 4) Then some people do it for financial gain. By downloading pirated content to resell it, they profit even more than the company with a right to sell it.
5) There is also this part of people like hackers and social engineers who use pirated content for spreading malware and infecting a user’s system.
6) People also find excuses for buying pirated content like One-time use. Users have also come up with excuses like seeing if a movie is any good before watching it at the theater.
Similarly, one may want to download software to run a singular task and after using it once they delete it or uninstall the software.
These are the people who do not see digital piracy as theft for one reason or another.
Or not as big as theft, as stealing someone’s money or valuable.
Case Study: Effect of Digital Piracy on The US Economy by Global innovation Policy Center
GIPC released this study on June 18th, 2019. The study focuses on the Impacts of Digital Piracy on the U.S. Economy.
An important question that this study answer is how the boon, i.e., American content creation and circulation, becomes bane by the impact of digital piracy.
The Complete study done by GIPC can be divided into two parts where. The first part estimates the revenue lost to U.S. producers by providing an answer to three specific questions:
- The number of movies and TV episodes that have been viewed through pirated sources?
- Percentage of people that would have bought those movies or TV episodes.
- U.S. industries would have gained revenue per unit if those movies or TV episodes hadn’t been pirated.
After determining the revenue lost amount, the next step involved calculating the overall economic losses to the American economy.
For calculating this, the researchers have used IMPLAN, an established national macroeconomic input-output model that estimates revenue loss to measure direct, indirect, and induced effects on the economy.
Conclusive Findings of the report
- Most of the digital video piracy is not done by U.S. residents.
- The nation’s movie and television production and the distribution industry are vital to the U.S. economy because they sustain 2.6 million jobs and generate $229 billion in revenue.
- Arguably video streaming has become a major growth component of the industry, with 500 licensed online video portals available to the world. But on the other hand, the same is also a tool for streaming-enabled piracy, which is even growing at the same rate as video streaming of American industries.
- As estimated at 26.6 billion, pirated viewings of U.S. movies and 126.7 billion pirated viewings of TV episodes occur every year.
- The percentage of people who would not buy a movie or TV episode if pirating was not an option, which is also technically known as displacement percentage, the U.S. content production industries lose between the range of $29.2 and 71 billion, which is 11-24 percent of their domestic revenue per year.
- Speaking about the loss of jobs due to digital piracy, between 230,000 and 560,000 jobs cost the United States $47.5-115.3 billion in GDP.
Professor’s take on digital piracy
Carnegie Mellon University professor’s prediction about 2020 is that this year could bring new regulations and laws for protecting consumers from data privacy risks and block pirate sites.
Ari Lightman predicts lawmakers to tighten regulations on social media networks.
This he predicts as part of a push for more transparency from digital giants.
Currently, he is a professor of digital media and marketing. Doing this, he says, would legally mandate auditing of third-party applications to ensure that the user data they collect adheres to security and privacy measures.
Further on, Lightman expects such kinds of regulations to address data ownership and rights.
Another professor Michael D. Smith, questions whether U.S. policymakers will follow the lead given by more than 40 countries.
These countries have blocked access to known pirate sites, and the professor expects the USA to do the same.
He is a professor of information technology and marketing. He says that pirated sites provide free downloads of movies, music, and other content.
Pointing to research, the professor goes on to say how digital piracy harms artists and consumers.
Specifically, he says that reducing the amount of content produced profitably, particularly projects with high artistic value.
Prediction by Ari Lightman
2020 will see organizations becoming more transparent to individuals to show how data is collected, shared, used, and monetized.
Not only that but also the year will see the organization take their responsibility for communicating to users how they collect personal data and distribute it in aggregate for malicious intent.
Because currently, organizations are constantly collecting users’ data, including their personally identifiable information and less sensitive information such as streaming video consumption patterns and content generation.
It is to be noted how less sensitive data can be combined to socially engineer and makeup virtually someone’s identity.
The issue here is about data use. Important questions like the data collected by the company do remain stored for research and development, marketing, customer service, and support? Does it get shared with other authorized partners?
Depending on the answer, the classification of data and its use should be shared with consumers who will decide.
Decisions like whether to allow this activity and consider what it might mean for them or not.
For example, the implications for social media networks that aggregate user data on just about everything.
Not just that, but they also combine it with other data stores.
This provides a sort of gateway opportunity for advertisers to hyper-target consumers.
In a way, social media networks allow users to share their data with third-party applications instead of letting an application use it.
Prediction by Michael Smith
Many reviewed academic literature consistently shows how digital piracy causes economic harm to creative artists.
In turn, that harm harms consumers by reducing the amount of content that can be produced profitably.
This is to be noted particularly for projects that have high artistic value.
The important question raised by these findings is that now that we know the harm done by pirate content, shouldn’t the governments pass laws to block access to sites providing pirate content?
On the one hand, industry observers argue that such laws will be ineffective because piracy, they say, is a game of whack-a-mole.
If you shut down one site, five others will pop up in their place.
So as long as consumers can find piracy, they will never switch back to legal channels.
A 2019 peer-reviewed study Mr. Smith co-authored with Rahul Telang through Carnegie Mellon’s Initiative for Digital Entertainment Analytics shows totally different results.
Their research finds that a law in the U.K. that requires ISPs to block access to major pirate sites has caused the nation’s consumers to increase their use of legal channels by 7 to 12%.
So, again it gives rise to another question: Should 2020 be the year where U.S. lawmakers join lawmakers from 42 other countries worldwide in passing laws to protect their consumers — and their creative industries — by blocking access to well-known pirate sites?
2020 sees a huge rise in Digital Piracy
Is that true? Has 2020 brought with it a rise in digital piracy? Many films and hit shows such as Contagion, Tiger King, etc., have been huge draws for streaming services.
Illegal websites that host pirated copies also see a rise because of the restrictions laid on people during the lockdown.
Business is booming in the industry at the same pace as digital piracy is on these sites since stay-at-home orders went into effect in many countries.
As per the statistics, visits by U.S. and U.K. residents on these sites jumped about 31% from February to March.
London-based Muso TNT Ltd conducted the research. This company also tracks piracy trends said that numbers from Germany, Portugal, Spain, and India were comparable. However, Italy saw the largest jump, at over 50%.
In March, the rise in U.S. users meant that 19,000 website addresses registered in the company’s database drew 137 million page views that month.
Andy Chatterley’s words claim to see a rise in film and TV piracy in every territory of the world spike for the last three years.
The research also claims how the weekend’s film piracy is currently beating the weekday’s film piracy by a fair number.
One reason for the sharp rise in traffic to websites that host illegal live television streams is banning sporting events.
50 percent more advertisements have been served by the top pirate sites in the U.S., U.K., Germany, France, Italy, and Spain in the first quarter compared with the previous quarter.
The data is provided by White Bullet Solutions Ltd., a London-based company that tracks advertising and supports intellectual property theft.
Capitalizing on this spike, pirate website operators are also in demand by enticing users.
They do so by offering them buying subscription packages, offering deals marketed as Covid-19, and self-isolation discounts, experts say.
Different Perspective on Piracy – Harmful or Harmless?
Lots of debate keep surfacing when it comes to underline the theory that leads to the losses caused due to piracy.
Scholars keep bringing the economic and social impact of online piracy with various alarming statistics.
However, some groups have completely different beliefs about piracy.
Looking through the glasses of different perspectives brings us to a confusing dead end.
But it is also true that the flames do not exist without fire.
Although the intensity of such attacks seems like a far-fetched dream, many can provide numbers to prove their take.
So, why not find out what each side has to say. Is online data piracy a curse or nothing to worry about? Or even helpful for the artists and content creators?
Data Piracy is Harmful
Starting with what we have all been listening to from the beginning, data piracy is bad.
There is a lot of research on this subject, and scholars and experts have come up with plenty of data to support their call.
As per the chamber of commerce, there is a total loss of 30 billion dollars in the US every year because of data piracy.
Not just that, the report says that the threat results in almost 560,000 jobs in the industry every year.
And, there are many other remarks made by the responsible organizations leave us thinking about piracy as a huge culprit for an economic slowdown.
When going to a market and stealing things without paying for the items is a crime, why does not the same theory apply to online content piracy?
If we buy the books, online piracy certainly is a very alarming threat, which, if not plummeted, could bring a greater problem to the content creators and those owning the copyrights for these contents.
A very well justified reason for believing that data piracy is harmful to the economy of the nations.
Is Data Piracy Harmless Completely?
Coming down to the next set of debaters who believe that online data piracy has nothing to do with the social and economic setup problems, here is what you must learn.
Not just that, the same report outlined that 22 percent of the global internet bandwidth is used for online piracy.
Because users believe that data piracy is not an issue, their number keeps increasing every year. But does that mean the notion is correct?
As per the Government Accountability Office report in 2010, one cannot track or substantiate a methodology for calculating losses due to data piracy.
In other words, the numbers illustrating losses do not have proper data backing to prove the stance.
At the same time, the report confirmed that there had been a considerable decrease in the revenue of industries creating sharable data.
However, linking those losses directly to data piracy without proof also does not feel justifiable.
Although the report did not provide immunity to online data privacy when accused of contributing to the loss to content creators, it did point out that the allegations are inflated without proper data backing.
Plus, scholars also believe that users with an insufficient budget to buy the copyrighted item often choose to go for the pirated ones.
This again brings us to one more fact important to notice.
So, those who are opting for pirated content actually won’t be contributing to the revenue of the content creator anyway.
So, how is data piracy harming economic losses? The truth is, it does pose a threat to the content industry, however to what extent is difficult to calculate.
Data Piracy is Helpful
No doubt, we have already clarified a lot of points regarding data piracy and its impact.
However, it isn’t easy to understand why users still seem to enjoy pirated content.
On the other hand, users feel that piracy helps provide exposure to talents, unknown otherwise.
For instance, if users do not like an artist, they won’t pay for the new album or movie featuring that particular artist.
On the other hand, one may like to listen to or watch the album or movie if available for free.
Some may feel that this argument isn’t very firm while also undermining many economic principles.
However, it shows that a long list of downloads happening over the internet would never have happened if piracy wasn’t the key to arousing interest.
Hence, it must not be a lost sale anyway to the content creator of the artist.
The above assumption is more of an ideology while failing to justify piracy. So, it is still difficult to prove that online data piracy is helpful.
So, what exactly is piracy – Harmful or Harmless?
Understanding the various perspective of the users and scholars, it is lucid that data piracy does contribute to the economic fall.
However, it still isn’t clear how much participation the threat has in the losses made to the entertainment or other content creation industries.
Looking at the bigger picture and generalizing the situation, it is against the law to break into the private content available on the internet and distribute it without the owner’s permission.
If not completely, data privacy affects the profit of content industries and lures users into accessing the data for free instead of paying for it.
Since the onset of online data piracy threats, it seems that eliminating the problem isn’t a practical aim.
Hence, one must also look for adaptation to lessen the impact of piracy and its implications.
OTT platforms and pirated sites remain the only option during lockdown for entertainment.
The demand seems obvious because OTT platforms and television are the primary sources of entertainment in most houses during lockdown times.
Netflix is to have added more than double the number of subscribers it forecast in the first quarter of 2020.
Walt Disney Co. claims it had 50 million subscribers to its Disney+ service on April 8, which is almost twice the subscribers that they’ve had in early February.
Funny is that Disney+ told investors about their prediction in the last year that it expected 60 million to 90 million signups by the end of fiscal 2024.
Not only have social media companies cracked down on piracy by banning certain content and URLs, but law-enforcement agencies have also arrested people behind online piracy in various countries.
Experts say such criminal groups often cut across borders and constantly adapt to avoid censors, and because of which they are the hardest to track.
In its advisory issue, Europol warns consumers about black-market streaming and how it could also expose users to cyberattacks.
Mr. Mark Mulready explained the disadvantages of pirated content by putting it out in front of people. It could carry malware that infects computers and allows hackers to access users’ home networks and personal information.
Mark Mulready is the vice president of cybersecurity services in a Netherlands-based security company named Irdeto BV.
European officials briefed this company about similar concerns in the videogame industry.
Adding to it, Mr. Mulready said that a certain number of people will always be willing to take that risk of damaging their systems.
The question is how to stop them from doing so?
Repercussions of Digital Piracy
There isn’t any sure-shot way of estimating the cost of any digital content.
Think about the high-end software packages you have purchased, maybe for your home or your company.
The cost can be as small as repairing your vehicle or as big as buying the most luxurious one.
Can everyone who needs one afford these prices? As famous as the Internet is, so famous digital piracy is. It is a form of copyright infringement.
Piracy, as talked above, is not just limited to software but includes movies, music, books, games, any and everything associated with the word digital.
When something has as big a definition as digital piracy does, it has many consequences, and so is digital piracy.
Downloading and distributing copyrighted material and intellectual property without paying for it is digital piracy.
It is almost like knowing about a good patented invention before someone does and then selling that to them just because they do not have the information about it.
Digital piracy is a violation of federal copyright laws and can result in steep fines and imprisonment.
You may think of digital piracy as a form of digital theft.
This act can cost companies billions of dollars each year, and the enormity of this is that it is not just about financial loss.
What can Digital Piracy lead to?
Imagine that you are an aspiring songwriter and musician to get a glimpse of how high the repercussions of digital piracy can be.
Having invested an entire year writing your first album, it is produced and out there in the market.
It has the hits that you always dreamed of! As a result of the album getting hit, you start to make a lot of money.
After some time, you discover that your album has been copied, and its copies are distributed for free over the internet.
And slowly begin to lose money, and things get so bad that you cannot afford to write a second album and eventually face a financial loss.
In addition to all this, you discover a person selling your album for a reduced price.
The outcome of this is that you are not only losing money, but someone else is profiting from your work.
What option do you have apart from the copyright laws? You would have no legal recourse.
Apart from getting you into dealing with all the legal trouble, digital piracy also has implications for cybersecurity.
Hackers can use one of the strategies to spread malware, trojans, and viruses via pirated content.
If you are a company using pirated software, you are opening yourself up to copyright violation and infringement.
At the same time, you are also exposing your networks to potential malware or virus infection. As hackers then use these infected systems to launch an attack or even to mine cryptocurrency.
Downloading from Torrent comes with its own risk. Those who download and even distribute pirated content from Torrent their IP addresses are public and easily tracked.
And one thing to note is that the pirated software cannot be updated, and because of remaining stagnant, it opens the system to attack through the use of vulnerabilities.
Pirated operating systems will have critical services disabled like firewalls and updates; this results in open vulnerabilities and less security.
Experts take on the rise in digital piracy.
Sergio Tirro says how criminals are very flexible. He is the head of Europol’s Intellectual Property Crime Coordination Center.
This organization is currently working along with other European law enforcement agencies to track the growth in piracy.
He also says how organized crime groups have increased their marketing around coronavirus conditions.
Sheila Cassells points out how European regulators asked streaming services such as Netflix Inc. to temporarily slowing down the transmission speeds.
This incident happened in March. Netflix was asked to do so to avoid overloaded broadband networks.
During this time, some illicit sites even pointed to what they saw as a competitive edge.
She is the executive vice president of the Audiovisual Anti-Piracy Alliance.
On how pirated sites work, she says they’ve seen several pirate sites making a point that they still offer a high definition.
Audiovisual Anti-Piracy Alliance is an organization that represents broadcast rights owners that includes European soccer leagues and satellite television companies such as Comcast Corp.’s Sky business.
Something more than just enforcement is required to stop digital piracy.
According to the results given out by GIPC, digital piracy is not only a crime but also an action that has destructive ripple effects on the U.S. economy.
On the one hand, it restricts revenue and jobs and inhibits the creative potential of America’s most innovative minds.
Digital piracy is responsible for treating people of the country who celebrates creativity and underpins technology and design.
It allows criminals to steal art, even by sitting thousands of miles from the creator.
And in this manner, it robs away America’s artists and the companies that employ them.
Their revenues based on their talent and hard work are nullified, translating into lost jobs.
In addition to this, digital piracy gives criminals an avenue to exploit unsuspecting people by leaving malware or identify theft in their systems.
It is this act of theirs that causes even greater damage to Americans. You can also read an ALEC article which is based on the same phenomenon, on their website.
It is the dangers like these that highlight the need for extensive intellectual property protection.
Older trade agreements dealing with IPR are currently not efficient for the running systems. That can be considered outdated because of their little or almost no reference to internet capabilities.
It is the government’s responsibility to support negotiations that bring IPR into the digital age.
USMCA has started with an excellent model that deals with the digital trade chapter, which can be a frontrunner in explaining this to governments.
Suggested Ways to stop Digital Piracy
As content owners worldwide are increasingly worried about seeing the value of their investments taken away by concerted piracy attacks, here are some ways to stop digital piracy.
Apart from other content piracy, video piracy is an area where there are both causes for hope and cause for alarm on a global level.
A side is working on increasing industry initiatives that at least are stopping the acceleration of piracy.
Another side is finding more and more ways that the pirates can get illegal content to the consumer.
Although not significant to ones that do not have much technical knowledge, the barriers to viewing pirated material once upon a time were important enough to put many ones off.
Pirated files that are to be found on torrent indexing sites, malware, and poor quality material needed to be sifted out.
Filed that had to be downloaded were often converted and then coaxed to play on a television set.
The file’s picture quality was often poor, and the audio sometimes worse.
Speaking about the time, right now, everything is so much easier.
Nowadays, consumers are looking for illegal content that can choose from many viewing platforms called live streaming pirated material.
What was once the pivot towards app-based television has opened up whole libraries of pirated material on set-top boxes and more.
The question is, what can operators do? In the age where we’ve broken down the anti-piracy protection measures that broadcasters and operators can take into different areas, as adapted from a presentation given by Olivier Dufour, CEO France, Motorsport Network.
These areas are individually powerful in their own right. Still, when taken together, they represent a new culture of affirmative anti-piracy action that represents a step-change in the battle against the content pirates.
Making the Price Affordable
Amongst many different ways of dealing with piracy, this one is the most effective. In a way, you are giving no reason for the hacker to hack into your content and pirate it.
You can start doing this by removing the incentive for the consumers that are looking for pirated content.
Doing this would mean that you offer a good product and a good user experience at a fair price.
Take, for example, the new Disney+ SVOD service launched in the fall of their product at a market price of $6.99 per month.
The differentiation bar between them and Netflix is set at the high end because Netflix offers $12.99.
Indeed, price is not the only differentiator, and the importance of the user experience cannot be understated.
What does a user generally want? They want sympathetic interfaces that contain the usual sophisticated bells and whistles.
The list also includes personal recommendations and excellent picture quality with no buffering and/or latency.
The struggle here is to provide these things at a realistic cost.
The efficiently an industry does it, the fewer people will be driven towards pirate arms.
In this way, you can eliminate people consuming pirated content because they cannot afford it.
Getting more people to agree that doing piracy is wrong
Why does a person who knows piracy is illegal does not practice it?
The answer is that they have some code of ethics and agreement to the law they subscribe to.
Although several strands do this effectively, the goal is to highlight to the consumer that piracy is a crime and illegal.
Obviously, it is obvious that the people inside the industry know this, but it is not obvious for people outside it.
The main factor here to be taken into consideration is password and login credential sharing.
And the fact that it was done by almost 50 percent of the people makes the crime look so normal that even when we know it is illegal to do so, we do it with ease.
There are two arguments here: either the law should be changed, and password sharing should be made legal, or there should be a technology brought into a place that stops one from doing so.
The latter should not be done at the risk of interrupting a person’s privacy.
Till then, we have to accept that this has become a normative crime.
It is becoming an activity that no longer appears illegal because the behavior is normal.
Directed efforts remind viewers that piracy is morally wrong and crime can prove successful in driving down numbers, especially those who give an example of speeding.
Video piracy is prevalent enough that maybe it should replace speeding in textbooks.
Although campaigns have highlighted organized crime in pirate activities and an opening to malware and inappropriate material, advertisers have always negatively associated with pirate sites.
Attentive measures at both ends
Ending piracy would want you to work in both ways, i.e., consumers as well as pirates.
Gone is the era of unprotected content; nowadays, content owners want to protect their investment by protecting their Intellectual Property rights.
So they are going only to strike licensing deals with such operators that can demonstrate who seriously take such threats to the revenue stream.
This is like setting in a new pipeline just because the previous one was badly corroded.
This is a practice that should be done in a way that’s kept changing all the time.
Remember the system where card-based Conditional Access Systems were as sophisticated as operators could get.
Since we have moved towards IP and OTT delivery, a transition to software-based Digital Rights Management has come in turn.
After this transition, too, there is no single technology that can guarantee security.
Arguably, the best practice involves a multi-disciplinary approach that combines both prophylactic anti-piracy measures and the following two criteria governing detection and enforcement.
Technology that should be brought into the system
A system should be brought into a place to identify the pirated content’s ghost in this scenario.
The absence of this system in place in the ecosystem is not letting us do half of the work.
Although bringing in this system requires technical intervention at the pre-transmission stage.
To start with, monitoring is the key to success here, be it automated monitoring.
There are some interesting developments in AI monitoring of video streams, both deployed and underdeveloped.
To get a check about the ideal world, at least for now, a hybrid solution is typically deployed.
This system should tell you whenever the breach has been detected and when necessary to deal with the breach.
Bringing in place such a system has become more important in recent years, like ever before.
Piracy has pivoted towards real-time streaming and the lucrative illegal revenue streams associated with the live sport.
High-level agreements with the search engines and social networks that consumers use to locate pirated content are key to rapid and real-time action.
The speed with a directive action is key.
TV Service Providers can play an important role in interrupting and removing pirated content, from the traditional take-down notices to increasingly sophisticated real-time messages.
By providing the correct anti-piracy services, operators can identify consumers watching illegal streams and incentivize them to switch to legitimate services.
Such actions scale from soft to hard, in which the harder countermeasures involve the introduction of law enforcement authorities.
An important criterion over here that comes into play is the speed at which you do things.
The speed at which results come to you and the speed at which you implement those results.
Although the prosecution in piracy cases will always be a much slower process that happens after piracy.
Removing the content from the internet as swiftly as possible is one of the best solutions to deter pirates and drive consumers towards legal alternatives.
Companies should cooperate against digital piracy.
Although companies always speak about the losses they face via digital content pirating, they never cooperate with their competitors in digital content creation and wage war against digital content piracy.
Steps should be taken at the industry level, as steps are taken to accolade someone for good work, to acknowledge people doing bad work by pirating the digital content, an art piece that took the creator’s years of hard work.
The complete process should be rethought and remanufactured from production and on-set content security through the transmission to set an example of piracy-free digital content.
Herd immunity is a vital aspect while considering the impacts of digital piracy.
More and more companies and organizations involved in figuring out a solution give more and more chances for the solution to become effective overall.
But this also works the other way out, so say there is a weak spot in the chain at any point, though it is there at a place that is out of the sight of people currently, it can be considered as one of the primary routes with which piracy can enter the system.
And all our safeguards can be exploited using this weak spot.
Companies should find such weak spots present in the system and make sure they are nullified at whatever cost it takes.
For the sake of stopping digital piracy, they should take help from their competitor if needed and talk openly about the concerns of digital piracy.
How To Fight Against Digital Piracy
Amid all the struggles companies face to create unique entertainment options for their users, the fear of digital piracy attacks is terrifying.
With the increase in the intrusion of privacy and copyright infringements, entertainment agencies have become completely impossible to remain untouched by the implications of digital piracy.
And those working hard to offer their customers a unique digital experience are affected the most.
Hence, in this article, we have summoned 6 different ways to put restrictions on such advancements.
Gone are the days when pirated contents weren’t much of a concern.
Although it could considerably affect the entertainment agencies, it still wasn’t simple for every user to transform the pirated content into useful files operational on Television or computers.
One had to look for the right file going through tons of torrent indexing websites.
There used to be huge chances of introducing malware when doing so.
Hence, many users kept themselves away from enjoying the free pirated content even when knowing such practices.
And, the efforts did not end there.
After you have downloaded the files, these versions often needed conversion to the right format.
Moreover, the poor picture and voice quality made it difficult for the users to watch the video beyond all the trouble.
For these reasons, DCMA and other concerned departments were not very strict at all.
However, time changed, and we moved to app-based devices, including smart televisions, making it easier for intruders to providing individuals with better quality and easily accessible pirated content.
No more need to download the contents.
Just open the platform and live stream the videos you wish to watch.
Isn’t that a lot easier? That is why anti-piracy policies became the need of the hour.
Measures to Restrict Digital Piracy from its Root
Operators are fighting to prevent piracy. Many experts have shared their policies to make stronger laws and restrictions for doing so.
At DCMA’s TVLS 2018 event, in his presentation, Olivier Dufour, the CEO of Motorsport Network, suggested a few measures for further strengthening the anti-piracy policies.
Offer Better Incentives to Customers than Pirated Apps are Offering
There are a few reasons why consumers look for pirated content. And, the most obvious one is affordability.
Talking about the budget, the pirated contents are mostly available free of charge.
While operators cannot win on that front.
It can definitely offer better incentives to its users.
For instance, keeping the prices fair and backing its user experience through AI leveraged interfaces.
This means offering users suggestions based on their past viewed content.
Letting them create their own watch list and providing options to set alerts for upcoming videos.
There could be plenty of other ways operators could keep their customers glued to their subscription forever.
By finding better user experience strategies, operators could defeat digital pirates.
Do not forget to offer great picture quality because this is where pirated content lags. So, better to make most of the weaknesses.
It is important to educate consumers that piracy is illegal, not just for those who copy content and present it to the viewers but also for those who take advantage of it.
In short, those watching pirated content are also contributing to piracy as a whole.
And, this is not just that.
From accessing apps that share pirate content to sharing passwords of the subscription that one holds, anything against the legal compliance gives piracy a headway.
Moreover, it is also crucial that the consumers understand the moral obligations towards those providing them entertainment content.
Threats for Pirates
It is equally important to restrict pirates from stealing video content as its crucial to make consumers aware of the legal way of streaming online content.
Because unprotect content is no longer a choice, the creators look for operators that offer licensing deals.
The content creators look for channels and platforms that could provide safety to their content and have strict policies against infringers.
And, it must not only be on papers, though. One should put that into practice when the need arises.
Effective Technological backing
To stop piracy, one must first aim to find out the contents being stolen and where it is parked.
In short, find the pirated content as well as the pirate streaming platform.
To do so, operators must have fully functional and effective technological backing at the pre-transmission stage.
Constant monitoring, either AI-based or manual, must be taken into consideration.
You can even rely on a hybrid solution accompanying a certain percentage of automation along with human intervention to keep a complete watch.
After finding the breach, one must take prompt action to put that down.
To make the entire process smoother and fast, operators must seek agreements from search engines and social media platforms.
Use Legal Enforcements
Either use traditional take-down notices or more sophisticated options such as real-time messages for moving from pirated solutions to a legal option.
By utilizing the right anti-piracy services, it would be easier to check those consumers relying on pirated streaming.
Hence, making it easier to reach them through the listed ways.
The faster the results are achieved, the better is the outcome.
Hence, removing such illegal streaming would speed up the cause for protecting digital content rather than bringing consumers to the legal authorities.
A Common Goal
Streaming agencies compete to secure the top positions.
However, if one wants to eliminate piracy successfully, companies must cooperate to put efforts together.
And, this must take place at every level of operation.
Serious troubles like spending time in jail time and fines can be subjected to you.
However, legal trouble is not the only threat to digital piracy.
There are also system threats like malware and vulnerabilities.
What seems harmless costs billions every year in damages and loss.
And the result of this loss is that cost impacts consumers through increased prices.
When you are downloading something illegal, you know you shouldn’t do this, but you still do it.
So, ideally, the only way to protect yourself from piracy is not to download illegally.
It would be best to use licensed software from trusted sites and not accept copies given to you from friends or unfamiliar sources.
Remember to look for trial versions or free software when you cannot afford one.
Open-source software is a great free alternative to digital piracy. Recurring payment may drastically reduce piracy. Or making software affordable could ease out one-time fee burnout.
You can use such streaming services to listen to music, watch movies, and wait until more affordable subscriptions.
These steps can spare you a lot of trouble in the end, and you need to get away from it because the consequences of digital piracy are genuine.
And no one else but you can protect yourself from the dangers.
It is certainly very challenging to put a complete full stop to piracy.
While entertainment industries cannot share their content for free, the pirates would always find ways to lure consumers for their own benefit.
In such a scenario, we must at least try to progress and mitigate together to lessen the side effects of the crime at our disposal.
Fighting with proper and actionable policies could definitely help legal authorities to counter the problem significantly.