Education and innovation key to challenging movie piracy

Educating current and prospective movie fans and innovating with accessible, affordable business models are key to combating online movie piracy, according to panellists at a debate on the topic organised by pro-copyright consumer education body the Industry Trust for IP Awareness as part of the BFI London Film Festival.

Noting that the Trust had been set up some 10 years previously, Liz Bales, Director General, said that piracy had “hugely changed, and with that, the way that we talk to audiences and the way that we engage with audiences, that changes as well. Education is one of the things the Trust does, and it’s important to put the whole picture together.”

Referring to previous initiatives regarding rights and protecting intellectual property, Bales said this continued to be an important part of what the industry did in terms of curbing the impact of piracy. “The other most important thing the industry does around reducing the impact of piracy is about innovation; ensuring that there are fantastic services out there that offer state-of the-art cinema experiences, fantastic quality on discs and that the product, increasingly so in terms of digital offering, is out there. That’s where we’ve seen real growth and real change over the last 18 months. There’s a whole load of ways consumers can engage in content.” She said the message should not be negative in terms of the detrimental effects of piracy, but should be on the basis that “film is fantastic. It’s about inspiring people and directing them where to go.”

Mark de Quervain at FindAnyFilm produced research which suggested that the cinema industry was highly-reliant on a small number of cinephiles for its revenues, also accepting that among that number were a percentage of illegal downloaders.

Orlando Parfitt, UK Movies Editor at Yahoo! noted the prevalence of illegal sites when carrying out simple movie title searches on leading search engines. “There was nothing on any of those front pages from iTunes, or LOVEFiLM or Netflix, which are the the obvious three legal ways to watch those films. It’s something we all have to look at. It’s a huge battle. A huge amount of traffic is being sucked up by pirate sites,” he admitted, later adding that it was the responsibility of legal providers of movie content to get their house in order in terms of optimising websites so that the first option in such searches should be a legal option.

According to debate moderator and radio presenter Edith Bowman, the message from the discussion that key to the battle against online movie piracy is to guide people to make the right decision via eduction and innovation.

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