Piracy Experts: Disrupt the Money (CDSA)

By Chris Tribbey

HOLLYWOOD, Calif. — Elisha Lawrence, associate VP of global anti-piracy and content security for TV network ABS-CBN Intl., noticed something important when she first started looking at the habits of those who pirate content.

“Just a little frustration on the consumer’s part will result in them moving on,” she said Dec. 9, speaking during a panel at the fifth annual Content Protection Summit. If the goal is to keep consumers pointed toward legitimate sites, she has a mantra for everyone in the anti-piracy business: “frustrate and redirect.”

Make it as a difficult as possible for a consumer to download or stream illegal content, redirect them to legitimate sources, and — whenever possible — take down the illegal sites via legal avenues. Just recently, ABS-CBN scored a couple of major legal settlements against those who ran piracy sites, sharing content from the distributor. Now, those Web sites point consumers to the real deal.

Content owners need education and cooperation with advertisers, credit card processors, search engines, Internet service providers and others, according to Jim Bottoms, executive director of the Media & Entertainment Services Alliance in Europe. And they aren’t getting it, largely because content owners are always a couple steps behind.

Sweden’s The Pirate Bay — one of the most notorious Bit Torrent sites out there — was shut down the day of the Content Protection Summit, with Swedish police raiding their offices and seizing computers and servers. But that’s not the first (or second, or third) time the site has been brought down, and there’s no guarantee it will stay down this time either, according to Gerre Versteegh, chairman of the Rights Alliance.

He said that in Sweden — one of the world’s biggest hotbeds for piracy in general — the problem is “There’s a lot of interest [in content] but we don’t get paid.” He said that for every 40 million legal digital transactions in Sweden, there are 100 million illegal downloads. He believes that problem stems from windowing.

“We will never win this battle as long as we don’t supply relevant demand,” he said. “We need to make it less interesting to be a pirate, and that means shortening windows. [People have] no time, no patience and they have no understanding of windowing.”

And — contrary to some reports — incidents of piracy are only increasing, according to Robert Steele, chief technology officer and chief operating officer for Rightscorp. Between 2010 and 2013, the number of petabytes downloaded on P2P networks increased 18%, from 674 to 802, he said, and movies represent a full third of that traffic. In 2013, the average P2P user downloads about one film every three days, or 99 a year, and that figure just keeps rising.

“This has become a lifestyle,” Steele said. “For them, it’s like coming home and turning on the TV.”