Tired of the ‘War on Piracy’, Adobe Hopes to Turn Pirates into Customers

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Rather than punishing them with enforcement actions, software company Adobe says it now prefers to deal with pirates by converting them into paying customers. "Everyone is tired of the entire concept and term 'Anti-Piracy', even the term 'Content Protection' too," Adobe's Anti-Piracy chief Richard Atkinson says. Adobe believes that the piracy problem is in part created by the industry and that companies themselves hold the key to solving it.

adobe-piracyThe Anti-Piracy and Content Protection Summit currently taking place in Los Angeles has revealed some interesting attitude changes among content creators.

Yesterday we covered comments from Warner Bros’ Chief of Anti-Piracy Operations David Kaplan, who said that the movie studio is now viewing piracy as a proxy for consumer demand. Based on this belief, the company is adjusting its legal offerings to better compete with unauthorized consumption.

Warner’s comments imply that copyright holders themselves can take significant steps to decrease online piracy by looking at what consumers really want. This position is also being embraced by Adobe, which has resulted in major changes to the computer software company’s anti-piracy policies.

In a teaser for the summit, Richard Atkinson, Adobe’s Corporate Director of Worldwide Anti-Piracy, says the company now takes a more positive approach to solving piracy. Instead of hammering on enforcement, Adobe is now focusing on converting pirates into paying customers.

“The strategy and concept of moving from traditional ‘enforcement-led anti piracy’ to a ‘business-focused pirate-to-pay conversion program’ is a BIG change, needing changes to operational elements as well as cultural elements,” Atkinson explains.

According to Atkinson the public has grown weary of the age-old war on piracy and awareness campaigns telling them not to steal.

“Everyone is tired of the entire concept and term ‘Anti-Piracy’, even the term ‘Content Protection’ too. It feels like an ongoing war that has been going on for 20+ years… with the same old good-guy vs bad-guy battles,” Atkinson notes.

Adobe’s Anti-Piracy Chief stresses that piracy is a problem that’s in part created by businesses, and that these same businesses hold the keys to solving it.

There are no breakthrough technologies that can help to reduce piracy according to Atkinson. Similar to Warner Bros., the company believes that they can make most progress by trying to understand why people pirate, and come then up with competing products.

“The core fundamental aspect is not necessarily technology… it is UNDERSTANDING what is really going on. In my years working in this space, I have consistently found that very few people actually have FACTS about what is going on.”

“Once you have the facts, then it will change your beliefs and your actions,” he adds.

One of the results of Adobe’s new strategy is the shift away from boxed products and towards a cloud-based subscription model. The company recently launched their Creative Cloud, which aims to make Photoshop and other products more affordable to the public.

The company believes that by spreading out the costs their products will become accessible to a larger group of consumers, hopefully converting some pirates into paying customers along the way.

“I do not think people who pirate our software do it because they are bad people, or because they like to steal things. I just think that they decided that they can not afford it,” Adobe’s David Wadhwani said earlier this month when the Creative Cloud launched.

It’s refreshing to see how Adobe, Warner Bros. and other companies are changing their attitudes towards piracy. While there’s no doubt that enforcement against commercial infringers will remain high on the agenda, the realization that waging war with potential consumers is not the way to go is a healthy one.


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