Why Hollywood’s Criminalization of Filesharers Won’t Reduce Piracy (& What Will)

The following is a guest post

Piracy, whether it be movies or music, has become a huge issue over the course of the past decade, especially since broadband has meant that more people have access to high–speed connections.

This has led to a pretty ridiculous trend of powerful Hollywood conglomerates chasing individuals through courts in expensive civil cases, whilst also forcing international governments to make downloading a crime. Whilst piracy is of course stealing, many consumers just don’t view it that way, especially the younger generation who have been brought up to expect content to be available to them ‘on-tap’.

However, as far as cybercrime goes, illegal downloads really should be the least of the authorities’ worries when you consider how many people lose money through online fraud and identity theft. Furthermore, state-sponsored threats and huge botnets that potentially have the power to cause chaos on a national level would seem to be more important issues to address than Intellectual Property theft.

Despite this, governments continue to attempt to push through new laws that will criminalize normal people.  These same people, along with some of the largest tech firms in the world, have protested loudly against acts such as SOPA and prevented them from being made law.

So what can movie and music companies do to reduce piracy without the need to persecute downloaders or those who run file-sharing sites. The answer is relatively straightforward really; since the introduction of online music streaming and downloading services such as Spotify have been introduced, the incidence of music piracy has dropped by 40%, proving that people will pay for content if it’s easily accessible, fairly priced and current.

Whilst services such as Netflix and LoveFilm are useful, many of these don’t provide bang up-to-date movies, which is what people want. Furthermore, often the pricing of online content for movies is more than you would pay for a DVD, which doesn’t really give the end user a whole lot in the way of options.

In addition to this, many movies that can be accessed can only be watched for 24 hours before they disappears again; the majority of box-office hits are not available at all. Whilst the music and even TV industries have adapted somewhat to the digital era, movie studios have not and seem to be blind to the benefits to both themselves and the consumer.

The era of the DVD is dying swiftly as more people turn to digital for content and the movie industry currently doesn’t make a movie available for online viewing until it has been released on DVD. Hollywood is shooting itself in the foot by sticking to this format that encourages illegal downloads, rather than moving with the times.

Chasing individuals through the courts and attempting to get IP laws pushed through international governments costs money, and lots of it. Hollywood would be much better placed to invest in providing their customers with what they want – better online content, which is current, easily accessible and good value.

People will still download illegally, but a shift in the way that content can be accessed will reduce piracy. It’s time that the movie industry stopped bully tactics and provided what the consumer is demanding, streaming, contemporary content that is fairly priced – this will ensure that piracy reduces and their revenue isn’t threatened. It’s all about moving with the times and not being so resistant to change – something that Hollywood certainly isn’t famous for.

Kerry Butters writes on behalf of Broadband Genie, the consumer advice site for finding broadband offers.