Thursday, March 21, 2013

Tackling Piracy

I'm on a panel at TV Connect this afternoon discussing "How can piracy and digital rights challenges be overcome".

Piracy is generally the result of content not being available in the right context: this context may be that the content isn't available on a certain platform, that it is too expensive or comes as part of a subscription package. Indeed, I coined the term 'TV everywhere' as a concept that all content should be available to everyone, wherever they are, at the right price, rather than the idea that a service provider manages to get its service onto a mobile device, which is what it seems to mean these days.

Of course, these issues are not new - I still have some classic bootleg rock concerts on LP somewhere. The clever thing is to turn this into a sales opportunity - the last time I went to a concert I was able to walk away with a CD of the event on the actual evening. Turning a threat into an opportunity is the best way to meet the challenge of piracy.

Most consumers want convenience and service: if they receive this they are likely to pay. A good experience in HD with bells and whistles is worth 9p over a crummy feed with ad overlays and the permanent threat of malware from pirated sources.

At the same time, effective implementation of anti-piracy techniques, both technical and legal will encourage most consumers to legitimately consume content, provided the convenience and service are also there.

I say 'most consumers', and there is a generational issue here. The internet generation are not used to paying for content and are likely to be more resistent to paying for content and more tech-savvy and able to find pirated sources.

However, much as Apple is derided for its dominance of the music industry, it has successfully created paywalls and, through its App Store, has established an ecosystem where payment - and micropayment - are well established that has been widely replicated.

And the move to streamed services mean that there is no need to have files that can be pirated any more. Six quid for Netflix or £10 for Spotify seem reasonable prices to pay to get most of the video and music you need.

So, the answer to piracy is a combination of availability, pricing, law, education and enforcement.

If you'd like to hear more, and are in London today, I look forward to seeing you at TV Connect at 5.40pm.