At Last, An Anti-Piracy PSA That Doesn’t Use Scare Tactics

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Anti-piracy PSAs come in all shapes and sizes but most fail to hit the mark due to ridiculous scare tactics and over dramatization. A new PSA recently released in conjunction with EU Intellectual Property Office is unique in that it actually makes an effort to see the issue from the perspective of the average user. In fact, piracy isn't directly mentioned at all.

Getting the public to stop downloading movies, TV shows, music, software, and other content from the Internet is a huge task.

For at least two decades, the public has been presented with Public Service Announcements (PSA) aimed at doing just that, but nothing seems to do the trick.

Most readers will be familiar with the “Piracy, It’s a Crime” campaign from 2004. It was so over the top it ended up becoming its own meme (before memes had a name) and was eventually lampooned by the IT Crowd.

With this experience in the bank, one would’ve thought that people producing these PSAs might get the message that scare tactics don’t work. However, year after year similar ads have appeared, most of which had the same non-effect on the public but perhaps with fewer laughs.

Reaching out to people to prevent them doing what many perceive as a victimless crime is difficult. But even when PSAs focus on this very aspect, that creators and the entertainment industry can suffer due to piracy, few get even close to the mark.

These days much effort seems to be centered around convincing pirates that they’ll have their devices reduced to virus-infested junk while “cybercriminals” pillage their networks and empty their bank accounts. These are classic scare tactics that work no better than most sex infection videos pumped out in the 80s.

The problem is that while in some cases people might indeed experience malware, few pirates know anyone who has experienced such a thing to the degrees stated. That means that once there’s no evidence to the claims, people simply ignore the entire message and discard it as pure propaganda.

Another issue centers around the over-dramatization of the effects of piracy. Constant claims that films or music won’t be made anymore is already provably false – one only has to look around at all the legal services today for evidence of that.

Furthermore, the average pirate really doesn’t make the connection between piracy and “real” crime, a point overlooked by this recent PSA from Film Ireland. It manages to pack in plenty of drama while also threatening the end of the movie industry.

While the above may have some effect on casual pirates, the fact that it currently has less than 400 views on YouTube shows, bluntly, that no one cares about this type of PSA. There are zero comments too, which seems to show that it’s not even controversial. Cruelly, perhaps, it’s quite boring.

The problem is that the vast majority of ads and campaigns fail to see the issue of piracy from the user’s perspective. Hardcore pirates are unlikely to be moved to “correct” their ways no matter what they see, but there’s a huge population of casual and potential pirates that, given a bit of thought, might reconsider.

Given these people make up the bulk of the entire media-consuming public, a new anti-piracy PSA produced by content-awareness group Agorateka in conjunction with the EU Intellectual Property Office caught our attention.

Instead of all the scare tactics, they appear to have sat down and actually considered what the average person (who isn’t highly proficient in piracy techniques) might encounter when looking for content to watch online. In fact, it doesn’t mention piracy directly at all and instead focuses on the end goal – getting people to use legal sites.

In summary, the PSA seems to suggest that regular Internet users and casual, non-technical pirates have a choice. They can spend a long time looking around trying to sort the wheat from the chaff, or they can go straight to a legal source and enjoy content immediately.

There’s no malware suggested, no decaying cinemas, no dying actors, and no police raids. Piracy itself doesn’t even get a mention.

Of course, there will be no shortage of people viewing the video noting that it only takes them a few minutes to find whatever they want on their favorite pirate sites, so this doesn’t apply. There’s no arguing with that, but skilled pirates do not make up the bulk of the public.

So what this video attempts to do, it appears, is ask the viewer a simple question – what do you value more? Is time your most precious commodity or are a few euros, dollars or pounds spent online each month an effective trade? For many, especially those with the cash to spare, time can invariably come out on top.

The message may even ring true with some proficient pirates too.

Many reports show that pirates have access to Netflix or similar services, so it seems unlikely that many will head over to the nearest streaming site or legally questionable platform when the legal variant is so much more simple. Kodi add-ons might be the weapon of choice for some ordinarily, but none guarantee a flawless trip.

In short, the PSA won’t be for everyone but it’s definitely not annoying, it’s non-judgmental, and it doesn’t come over as propaganda. It merely suggests that an easy and quick alternative to piracy are legal resources and they can be found via the Agorateka portal.

That’s a great starting point for those who want to prevent people from downloading a car but don’t want to alienate them.


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