Piracy is alive in the digital age


The Federal Government in Australia is back to discussing TV and Film piracy, claiming once again that it is causing the devastation of the industry. Yet whether it be music, tv or film it’s very hard to actually find evidence of this devastation they talk about. Most studies suggest there is some lost revenue but certainly not enough to claim it will destroy the industry. Even some of the most illegally downloaded shows like Game of Thrones Director has said it’s not a big deal. 

The push to curb the practice seems to be driven by lobby groups from the industry rather than any rational evidence. Illegal download numbers are monitored or estimated and the entertainment companies use these figures to estimate lost revenue but it’s really not that simple. You have to take into account things such as, would the person downloading the content have watched it to begin with? Logically I would think that there are also positives to the download market. After all if a percentage of those downloading the show started as viewers not particularly interested in the show. The fact they have downloaded the show may have actually made them a fan. So some could argue that the word of mouth marketing for shows is actually helping generate new viewers. Most studies suggest the lobby groups are more concerned about about back end employees losing their big salaries than anything else. 

I mean where TV is concerned this seems to me to be the easiest problem to solve. Simply release the content internationally at the same time rather then have long delays and work with content purchasers in each country to release replays of the episodes online within a day. Then the TV or cable producers in each country that have the rights can have them available with commercials which they can charge advertisers for. 

At the same time allow these content providers in each country to have a pay per view price for a version that doesn’t have commercials. Simple solved. Film may be a little more difficult due to run times and lags but use the same principles. Internationally release films at the same time and then the same for digital or DVD release. There is in fact evidence that revenues are actually increasing for entertainment companies. So maybe it will mean some reduction in fringe programs but it appears that the biggest problem to the entertainment industry is in fact itself. Any fringe program reductions are being made up for by the increase in content providers actually self producing exclusive content such as what Netflix is doing. 

The entrainment industry seems to be holding desperately onto old business models where they in fact need to be looking at the future and embracing new models. The strange thing about this is they will find themselves going broke unless they change. This is why we are seeing streaming services starting to release their own productions because they are in fact miles ahead of the traditional entrainment companies when it comes to understanding this. 

Overall I just think this is such a logical problem to solve. It just seems that the problem is being caused by entertainment companies, both content and production who are resistant to change. The reality is we see companies all around us who have been in business for decades and in some cases a century who are disappearing due to either a lack of innovation on their part, poor management or simple changing times. Why should the entertainment companies be any different. Maybe the studio’s need to start looking at whether the massive pay checks they pay lead actors and themselves is really viable longterm.