Posted by & filed under business models, Copyright, digital divide.

Description: As the federal government pushes to modernize the country’s copyright laws, a new study suggests that relying on tougher legislation to stop online piracy simply won’t work.

Source: Globe&Mail.com

Date: March 16, 2011

It found that anti-piracy education has done little to stigmatize illegal downloading in emerging economies and that market conditions are directly to blame.

“The failure of legal markets to provide access to goods at prices that are affordable in terms of local incomes fuels a situation in which high piracy becomes the primary form of media access,” said study editor Joe Karaganis.

According to the study, a copy of Microsoft Office is five to 10 times more expensive in an emerging economy like Brazil or South Africa, compared to prices in the U.S. or Europe.

The council’s data shows that a decade of increased copyright enforcement has not slowed piracy. It suggests that piracy rates as high as 90 per cent will continue until better competition pushes prices down.

The findings should send a strong message to developed economies such as Canada, said Internet law expert Michael Geist. Read rest of story

Questions for discussion:

  • What are the most effective ways to stop piracy online?
  • Are social marketing techniques the most effective ways to curb piracy longterm as opposed to legal remidies?

25 Responses to “Tougher legislation won’t stop Internet piracy, experts caution”

  1. Brett Quinton

    The most effective method to limit piracy is to offer the consumer a product at the price they are willing to pay. There is a point where the average consumer will give up the terrible quality, virus infested free download for a good quality, virus free option. The difficulty is finding that price. I do know that the price is not $20 for one DVD, which is where the major companies seem to be stuck. I think that there is a huge oversight by the companies who support this law in stating how much revenue is actually lost by them. There are habitual downloaders who never watch/listen/read anything they download, these are not potential customers. They will pay their ISP a lot of money to insure that their broadband connection will allow them to download quickly, but they will never spend money on the products downloaded as the quality is not important to them.

  2. Oloff Dreyer

    The secret to lowering the rate of piracy is finding that perfect middle ground between tough legislation and laws against piracy and finding the right price that the marketplace demands. Probably the most effective way to stop the piracy online is to simply catch the people doing it and punish them. Through this, others would realize there are consequences for doing this. At this point I think there is not enough punishment for those who do steal online and that is why we do it. We know we can get away with it and not suffer any consequences. I think social marketing techniques will work in that it will make you think twice about pirating a song or movie. With this it will make our conscience eat at us untill we abide by the rules. Though there will always be the few that will indefinitely feel the need to pirate dvd’s and other media.

  3. A.S.

    The most effective way to stop piracy online is just as Michael Geist says in that, “what really drives consumers to respect copyright is reliable service and competitive pricing.” A good example of this is given in the article where iTunes has provided a “viable, effective, fair service that meet consumer demand.” Another company that has paralleled iTunes in their attempt to reduce piracy is a European-based digital music provider Spotify. Once users sign up and make an account, it gives them access to all varieties of music, podcasts, and other social media content for only a small monthly fee.

    Piracy and free downloading do have some perks. People who engage in these activities put themselves and their PC’s at risk. Many torrents contain malware or viruses that can severely damage a computer’s operating system and as a result, be very costly. It is also very likely that the quality may not be up to par with say a “legal” download. Social marketers’ should use techniques like this to curb piracy long term, which could be alot more effective as opposed to legal remedies.

  4. Kuda

    Curbing piracy i think will require for the producers of the material to reduce the prices to more affordable prices. For example, the Microsoft suite of $164+ price is too ridiculous considering that it expires when a new suite comes into use, making the older versions somewhat obsolete (in regards to improvements). In such a case you find very few people willing to buy it. Another way i think is effective is to find the best programmers to put bugs on copyrighted material that makes the material work poorly if it is copied. I have found hackers, get round this; but i feel more work into this can reduce piracy. I find that the legal aspect of solving piracy is counterproductive if there is no cooperation from ISPs. Yet they too want a business, and some are unknown or hidden. So the better way would be to treat it as a disgraceful vice in the hope of saving some (from pirating )

  5. Katelynne Swenson

    I don’t think that piracy can ever really completely be stopped. What’s cheaper than free? But I do think that they can do things to cut it down. One of the biggest is to offer a cheaper price to consumers. iTunes started doing this, but even they could be cheaper. They charge 99 cents a song, but for someone that downloads a lot of music, this can really add up. Lets say the average CD has 12 songs, making it a 12 dollar cd. This is no cheaper than actually going out and buying the cd at a store. Governments can implement tougher piracy laws, but I don’t think this will help as much as offering cheaper prices. The fact is that thousands of people download media onto their computer. If you are one of these people chances are you won’t get caught. There is no way that government could even come close to catching everyone who illegally downloads. The more people who do it, the harder it is to catch everyone. Therefore, I think it is up to the legal markets to cut costs for consumers.

  6. Samantha.Kent

    If companies want to stop illegal downloading than they have to make the products easier accessible to the consumer and at a better price than what they are already selling for. With the economic downturn people are not able to recover as fast as companies, but they still want some luxuries. If they can’t afford to go to a movie they will find a way that is cheaper and accessible. If all they have to do is wait a couple hours for a brand new movie and pay nothing then go to a movie theatre they are going to do that. If the consumer wants to use a downloading system that costs them nothing and they don’t have to leave home why not, if companies cant keep up with the technology by being able to provide their product to the consumer in a fast and more affordable way then they are missing out on a great investment on their part.

  7. Mark McKee

    Piracy will always exist in my opinion. However, different strategies can be put in place to slow it down or reduce it. The article mentions Microsoft office being more expensive in other countries and is a high item for piracy. That is the problem with software, music, video etc they can all but turned into a digital copy which then can be duplicated. On the other hand hardware is very difficult to duplicate. Imagine if Microsoft office was a hardware chip that was placed in the tower of the computer. The program would then be 100% accessible as long as that chip was inside the computer. The program in concept would only run from that chip and thus it would difficult to duplicate. If they started sending legal letters to every home that has high downloading and began to prosecute individuals I think this would have an effect as well. Especially if the media focused on the topic as well.

  8. Warren

    Pandora’s Box is already opened and I am not sure if online piracy can be stopped. However, it makes sense to provide fair prices and excellent customer services to create a culture that would not require piracy. It is ironic that Hollywood, the very place built on money and glamour, paid for by the average movie-goer was always very well off financially. Now with online piracy they are shocked that their lucrative way of life is in jeopardy, despite the fact that movie prices seem to keep going up and up at the box-office. It’s the combination of Hollywood greediness and lack a fair price that provides incentives for people to save a buck. Ticket prices must be more reasonable. Families can’t go to a movie nowadays without a large amount of cash. The mark-up on popcorn is insane. If you change the culture to cheaper better services it may help, but taming the internet will be more challenging than taming the Wild West.

  9. Kendra

    I think the most effective way to stop piracy online is to offer a cheaper way to buy products. Period. Instead of having two options: buy it at regular price (be it online or by going to a store) or free… I know that many people will choose free. I agree with changing business models, and doing the same thing that iTunes has done. You give people the option to pay a little for something, they will choose that route rather than full price or free.

    Most people have consciences, but many have justified pirating rather than buying. If businesses offered a cheaper version of their product online, I know that a lot of people will choose to buy it at a cheaper price, rather than getting a (possibly sketchy) free copy. Take DVDs for example. When they first come out, they are $20-30 (regular, not blu-ray). A few years later, or even a year later, the same DVD’s are selling for 10-15 dollars cheaper. If the industries mentality is that if they sell downloadable DVD’s for a cheap price of (e.g.) 5 dollars they won’t be making as much money, they aren’t looking at the right market segment. Selling DVD’s online will allow them to enter the “downloaders” market segment.

  10. Ashley

    The most effective way to stop piracy online is to get rid of the Internet, but that won’t happen, just like how piracy will never be stopped. There will always be people downloading software, music, movies, whatever they can because free downloads are much cheaper than buying them. It would also be challenging to punish the people downloading off the Internet because nowadays it’s not just the techy people who are enjoying the free CD or DVD here and there.
    Social marketing techniques are effective for certain issues but I don’t think they will have any impact the piracy problem. With the issue of littering, it was effective because (the majority of) society wants to sustain Earth and not live in a giant dumpster. However, I don’t see the same success with piracy issues. When I watch shows like MTV Cribs, movie stars or artists are giving a grand tour of their beautiful mansion situated in Hollywood with 15 plus bedrooms and live in chefs I don’t feel like need to run out and purchase their movie or CD to support their lifestyle.

  11. J.E.

    I really do not think, unless the government starts to monitor every household individually, that this piracy problem will every stop. There is just way too many sites and way too much content for free out there. One website get sued and is tied up in court for years and who knows, maybe gets shut down, but it the mean time hundreds of other P2P/torrent sites have been created. At the same time I think some things could be stopped such as movies becoming available to the general public before they are even released in theatres. This should not be that hard of a thing to prevent. Sure copies are getting stolen, but this just means you need to have tighter security around them. I would never download another movie that has not been released onto DVD yet if they all looked terrible and came from a camera in the theatre. But when you find hundreds of copies that look crystal clear than sometimes it’s hard to say no.

  12. JJ

    I would have to agree with the article to some extent. No matter what anyone says at the end of the day the consumer is always looking for the best price. The article mentions how iTunes and apple as a business used such techniques to lure consumers away from illegal downloading. I would have to disagree with that, I have been using itunes for years and have never payed a cent for one song. With sites like mediafire, zippyshare and listentoyoutube.com the limits to downloading all your favorite songs are endless. Youtube has almost any song imaginable, if you hear of a song and type it in to youtube, 9/10 times the song is avaialable for listening use. Then someone created listentoyoutube.com, which allows you to convert the youtube song or video to mp3, and on macs it will import the song into itunes automatically. So I feel that there is a concern for piracy as I watch all moviesm tvshows and download songs for free, but still feel that this issue has a long way to come.

  13. AS

    I think it is a valid effort in trying to diminish online piracy but in all honesty it is never going to stop. There will always be someone out there ‘beating the system’ and downloading music and software in order to save money. There is always new software for downloading music and movies when another one gets shut down. I think the most effective ways to stop piracy is to make it affordable to buy these types of things. As well as having individual consequences if the laws are broken. I think social marketing will definitely have a bigger role than legal remedies to curb piracy. Not many people care if they break the law for the ‘small things’ like this and if everyone else is doing it then you might as well too because right now there are no consequences that seem to appear. I think social marketing has a greater influence for sure.

  14. Abiola Ogunyemi

    The problem is that online theft is much more difficult to police as oppose to ordinary crime. The fact that millions of dollars is lost a day by American retailers to crime such as shoplifting has amount to be a daily estimate of about $20 billion. If it was as risk-free to steal from stores as it currently is to illegally download movies or songs on the Internet.Adopting common-sense precautions against online theft. The punishment for online property thieves should be measured with their crime. But the big question remains unresolved. In an online world where stealing has become so easy that over 9 million people have already illegally downloaded a movies they like at some given point in time, how do we get these millions of unincorporated law-abiding people to stop breaking the law?

  15. Jared Scott

    This article makes a very valid point. Most people, I feel, would stop pirating media if there was a better option. Drop the price, give customers what they want and watch the profits rise, because more people will be buying. In this economy where gas prices are always rising, giving people a bargain is sure to improve sales. Lets face it piracy will never stop so legislating it won’t do any good.

  16. Travis Sedrovic

    As a few people said above, there is no 100% effective way to stop piracy, but it can be changed. The single biggest way to reduce piracy is to make a more affordable alternative. In Canada, netflix has just released many more movies that they didn’t have before, but it is still lagging from the hundreds of thousands that the US netflix has available. You can share a netflix account with 5 users, at like $13(i think) per month. 13/5= $2.60 each. There is no one that I know that wouldn’t spend $2.60 to view hundreds of movies. If only there were more movies available, I wouldn’t have to download illegally.

  17. Mikey

    There needs to be some kind of regulation for sure, but it doesn’t mean it will stop it. I support the bill, but this bill will just open up a new market (the VPN/Proxy business).

    Is not that people are unwilling to pay for a product, just as mentioned in the article, most of the times software is overpriced in third-world countries–countries in which copyright laws are not enforced. Are you kidding me? Don’t these people hold PhD’s? They should know better.

    The solution: Lower the prices, create “lite/express” versions of their products or in the case of movies, give them cheap movies by lowering the quality (a la Vudu).

  18. Asif Hirji

    I agree with Geist on this issue. The only way to stop piracy is when prices are fair for the consumer. Who wants to play 30 dollars for a DVD when you can download the same thing in 1080P for FREE?! I agree that legislation also has to be amended and that comes down to cracking down hard on ISPS’ Either way I believe their will always be a market for piracy no matter what you do. It’s just to easy for the consumer to click and download a movie from the comfort of their own home. There has to be a balance between laws and the DVD companies need to make their products more affoardable in order to see a decrease in piracy.

  19. Teigen

    Piracy is going to exist no matter what the government tries to do. Even with the threats out there that downloading music from sites like LimeWire, etc. is illegal, people still continue to do it. The endless threats are not helping the situation. If you can still illegally download without getting caught, why would you stop? It’s great that companies are beginning to see that people are not happy paying the retail price for movies, and music and are creating ways to get these movies and music for cheaper (iTunes, Netflix..etc) but when you can still find it for free, what good does it do? Until there is a way to stop illegal downloading, there is no point paying for it.

  20. N.P

    I definitely think that if there was competition amongst companies which allowed for cheaper downloads, people may be more interested. iTunes is huge right now and many people purchase from there because they know it is safe, cheap, and legitimate. Legislation is one way of moving towards a change, however, finding a common ground in regards to passing a legislation is rarely found in this area. There are so many rules and regulations which conflict with one another. If they created more jobs to bust people like the IP police, then maybe everyone who is illegally downloading will be caught right away. People can be tracked through IP addresses however without stricter laws being passed, there is nothing they can really do about it. Piracy has become a monopoly and the only way to pull away from that is by promoting competition amongst firms who are willing to provide downloads at low rates.

  21. Nyle Watts

    There is of course the need for Canada to update its copyright. As the article says, the last time was 1997, and the new innovations that have emerged out of the technological world since then has been overwhelming. But I suppose that iTunes is an example of a way to PARTIAL stop piracy. I don’t believe that it can ever be stopped completely, because just like every other law that ever been made in our civilization, there is going to be some kind of person who disregards it in order to benefit from it. But I agree with Travis’s point that the best way to reduce piracy is to make a more affordable alternative. If you give the customer the product they want at the price want, then more-often-than -not they will take that option.

    On a separate note, I found it interesting that Microsoft Office is 5-10 times more expensive in places like Brazil and South Africa. I never thought that would be the case, but I suppose every economy is different.

  22. Dylan B

    I know that everyone in my Info Systems class is well aware of my view on Piracy, so I wont pull any punches here. Piracy is a fact of life. Given the option to pay for something, or get it for free with no tangible consequences is too appealing for the majority of people to turn down. Imagine that at 7 years old you learned that at the candy store you’re not allowed to steal, but if you do, the people that work there don’t ever do anything about it. You’ll be a candy-rich kid! Free trumps any price 100% of the time. If you want piracy to stop, i recommend that the software/gaming/movie/music industries start making less excellent products. Its really their fault…..

  23. naismithj

    I am all for the reeling in of those “cheating” the system however how do you enforce such an “abstract” area of society? There are plenty of “illegal” thing in much more concrete realms of society we have yet to master so I can’t see this taking a major effect any time soon. Hells Angels anyone? I think federal money should be spent on improving things that have a much higher impact on the majority of it’s countries citizens. So a bunch of computer nerds get low grade movies before they should, is it likely that “rules” will stop them…I doubt it. It’s more likely that we waste a TON of money trying to create new “blocks” faster than they can find the loop holes. Good luck these folks are rockstars don’t tempt the good to become great.

  24. Corey Bedard

    The most effective way to stop online piracy is obviously the approach that apple has taken. Affordable prices for high quiality products is the closest that any company can hope to get to stopping piracy. That being said, I’ve never purchased a movie or song from iTunes, simply because I don’t have to. As discussed in class, free is cheaper than even a penny so why would I pay money for something when I can so easily download it for free. As hard as these companies, and perhaps even the government are trying to stop the piracy, new sites and new systems come about as often as anyone could like and even if they only last 6 months that is still good enough for most users. Sure there are the few who will discourage this online piracy but the numbers are much less than those of us who like free stuff.

  25. Rob C

    With the growing issue of internet piracy that exists today, there are many dynamics that play a role in the root cause of this problem. For the most part I do agree that market prices and conditions have forced this significant hike. But, it also comes down to the bare fact that when internet surfers or potential consumers are out looking for movies and music and are presented with the options of paying $8.99 for a crisp, clear quality movie purchase or a free movie stream that is not as clear in quality. Most people would take the free movie stream in a heartbeat!

    Furthermore in the music industry, which has been hit extremely hard by piracy many internet users today often download their favourite music through bit torrents instead of purchasing albums or singles but there are still a good amount of people who want to support their favourite artists by purchasing their album as long as it is available at a discounted price.

    Overall, these legislations definitely will not stick if they are indeed implemented only because we are living in the age of technology and with that there is always a method to get around a law. It just hasn’t been found yet.

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