Anti-piracy firms often portray copyright infringers as thieves that must be stopped or eradicated.
However, the people at UK firm MUSO have a different take on the piracy problem. With funding from the local Government, they’re offering classic takedown tools, but the company prefers to frame piracy as an opportunity rather than a threat.
This became apparent once again when UK telecoms regulator OFCOM released new figures this week. According to the agency, online subscription services including Netflix and Amazon Prime have, for the first time, overtaken satellite and cable TV.
This shows once again that the Internet is transforming the way people consume media. Moving from linear viewing to an on-demand model is something many ‘torrenters’ already envisioned more than a decade ago.
It’s a landmark change that certainly shouldn’t be ignored. This is something Chris Anderson, MUSO’s Head of Film & TV, wholeheartedly agrees with, albeit with a major footnote.
“Technology has completely transformed the way people are able to watch TV and the days of being tied to a TV schedule are well and truly behind us, with streaming services now officially the preference for the majority of viewers,” he says.
“The word ‘officially’ is key – because what these figures from Ofcom don’t take into account is the many hundreds of thousands of people who are streaming TV in the UK through unlicensed services and sites.”
When piracy is taken into account, online streaming overtook traditional TV viewing a long time ago.
There’s a general idea that legitimate streaming services are driving people away from pirate sites. However, that’s a misperception. While more and more pirates have a Netflix subscription, piracy remains alive and well.
“The idea that services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime have eradicated piracy is a fallacy. Our figures show that global piracy has increased year-on-year, in spite of the rise of streaming services. The UK had 4,776,616,717 total visits to film and TV piracy sites in 2017 alone,” Anderson says.
MUSO encourages UK broadcasters not to fixate on the competition from legitimate streaming services alone, but to consider the potential pirate audience as well.
“Piracy audiences are one of the great untapped pools of wealth – they have extremely high intent to access content but are often simply unable to. Finding ways to access this audience could be the secret bringing higher profits back to broadcasting,” the company adds.
Of course, MUSO doesn’t make these comments without having a stake in the matter. The company previously launched a piracy marketing platform, which helps content creators to connect with and convert pirates.
That said, it’s a refreshing message compared to the usual stream of legal threats, crime reports and malware warnings.