All in all it has been a good year for content protection. This time last year, the Pirate Party (an off shoot of Pirate Bay) was the ‘talk of the town’ with its’ high-profile stand for piracy and its’ success in Euro elections. This year the party fell well short of the threshold for the European Parliament and the site is still off air.
Meanwhile, ‘three strikes’ type legislation is well down the track in most European territories and elsewhere and, in the US, Congress has just started to seek powers to take over the domain names of any sites that promote infringement.
Furthermore, although a significant minority still see content theft as a minor and/or victimless crime, most surveys show public attitudes shifting in favour of fair pricing for content and approval of appropriate reward for creators.
The warning note here is fair pricing, and that is linked to another issue, what might be termed ‘fair use’ availability. Pricing will probably take care of itself; legitimate Over The Top (OTT) services, often developed by content owners who want to cut out ‘the middleman’ distributors, will help move the price market in favour of consumers. But if the most popular content rights are not made available widely, (because owners over exploit scarcity to drive up prices), or are slow to make the content, once paid for, available on many devices (see our feature), then they will hand excuses back to the pirates.
It is also important the content community does not over use new powers (like three strikes) – if it begins to take a sledge hammer to crack small nuts, then sentiment will turn against them quickly. It is difficult to successfully identify individual culprits in the IP world and the infringement of the civil rights of the many, while organised criminals continue to flourish, will see politicians quickly dilute their support for the content industry.
The way to market success is competitively priced content made available widely (geographically and technologically) and protected to a level that makes theft expensive enough to be uneconomic.