Middle East pay-TV operator OSN and Dubai Customs have launched what they say is the world’s first Content Protection virtual reality (VR) game at KidZania Dubai to boost awareness of the threats of content theft.
The 60 second game, Copycat Combat, is a collaboration between the pair, who have a strong partnership in combating the import of illegal satellite and IPTV devices as well as championing intellectual property rights (IPR.)
Copycat Combat is aimed at children between the ages of 5 and 12 and will be available to play at mall stands and other public spaces across the region managed by OSN. The game will also be toured in UAE schools by Dubai Customs as part of its ongoing educational initiatives to raise awareness of the importance of protecting IPR.
In ‘matrix-style’ world content thieves zap OSN’s precious collection of movies, TV series, kids shows and sports events with powerful laser rays. The game player must ‘shield’ the collection with armoured gloves during an adrenaline-accelerating and pulsating assault that requires fast reflexes and accuracy.
“This is super exciting for us at OSN, to be first in the world to launch a content protection game that helps children to understand the massive threats that the entertainment industry faces from content theft,” commented Sophie Moloney, Chief Legal Officer, OSN. “What’s more, the game is a lot of fun and children can hopefully come away with the thought that content is really precious and worth protecting.”
“This initiative uses virtual reality and is based on the latest advanced applications in the field,” advised Ahmed Mahboob Musabih, Director of Dubai Customs. “The result is Copycat Combat, which will not only raise awareness about the importance of Intellectual Property but will also help kids innovate. This initiative is one of many steps we have taken following the vision and directives of our wise leadership. We are happy to have partnered with OSN to come up with this innovative product.”
“The entertainment industry’s biggest problem is piracy. Illegal theft of content is the biggest danger of the future of creative industries across the world. Here in the Middle East, we suffer from it,” said OSN CEO Martin Stewart, at the game’s launch.
“The impact is many tens of millions, if not billions, of dollars on a global basis. The threat of piracy is on recorded music, films, TV shows and video games. Anything that people can put online is capable of being stolen. And let’s not forget illegal satellite boxes and illegal streaming. There are all sorts of different ways that content can be stolen.”
“Pirated material is a not victimless crime. The Middle East region as a whole is losing hundreds of millions,” Stewart said.
“It is not about just downloading the content and it is not hurting anybody. It is hurting too many people whose jobs depend upon creating the content. If we do not make sure that people are fairly rewarded, then there will not be that content in the future, so it is important to pass a message on about the importance of content and intellectual property and that’s why we are targeting the youth through a game called Copycat Combat.”
“What we are trying to do today with Copycat Combat is to explain to people the consequences of piracy. When a player wins the game, it says thanks for your actions because you managed to beat the pirates. That’s the whole message. It is about linking the consequences of people’s actions to the entertainment that they enjoy,” Stewart explained.
“Those people working in the industry are earning their living from it. They have a job to do, which is creating stuff that people want to enjoy. If we do not find find ways that reward people for their job, then there is no great content for the future and that’s the central message behind Copycat Combat.”
“The Government and concerned entities stand against illegal activity whenever we see it. Most of this illegal activity is run by organised criminal gangs. This is not somebody just doing something for fun,” stressed Stewart. “These are organised criminal enterprises who are profiting from the theft of this great content. So we make sure that we crack down on them wherever possible.”
“A production of educational materials, such as Copycat Combat, lets people understand the consequences of their actions. But we also provide content at affordable prices. There is no need to steal when there are affordable alternatives through OSN for a very small amount of money.”
“I do understand the temptation when someone advertises a movie for $100 when there is a free alternative. However, when a movie for $3 or $4, then really there is not much incentive for somebody to steal it. That what my organisation is trying to do, giving people the legal, affordable, safe alternative.”
Conservative estimates put the loss of revenue to the entertainment industries in the MENA region as a result of content theft as being between US$500 million and US$1.2 billion per year.