Tag Archives: entertainment

Spain Is the Latest Nation to Make Progress Against Piracy

It’s always a rough ride for national governments trying to curb content piracy within their borders. Trying to promote legitimate streaming and download services while punishing illegitimate platforms is tough enough,m but the challenge is even harder when it comes to balancing punitive measures with education for end consumers.

For all the setbacks, though, 2015 is showing signs of success for anti-piracy initiatives at the national level. 

 

Earlier this year we were happy to report on Norway’s progress against piracy. Now, at the halfway point, it’s Spain’s turn to trumpet some positive results, as Spaniards turn towards legal channels, especially on the streaming side.

As a little background, as recently as last year, Spain was Western Europe’s black sheep of the family in terms of content theft. A report commissioned by the Coalition Against Piracy found that a massive 88 percent of all digital content accessed by Spanish consumers came was unlicensed. That was only a four percent rise on the previous year, demonstrating just how established and brazen these illegal players had become in Spanish society.

At an estimated cost approaching $2 billion lost to rights holders, Spain was clearly a piracy hotspot.

Thankfully, the country’s government took that slight to heart and enacted some serious legislation to tackle the problem, including greater attention to intellectual property complaints by the authorities and the potential to block Internet service providers (ISPs) who facilitate access to illegal sites.

These efforts began back in 2012, so there has been some overlap, but now the country’s Ministry of Education, Culture, and Sports is reporting signs of success at every level.

The highlights include:

  • 98% of all content removal requests, covering 247 sites, have been heeded, while 95% of 444 creator complaints against unlicensed content have been resolved satisfactorily,
  • Annual music revenues returned to positive growth in 2014, following a historic low the previous year, reaching $150 million dollars and posting a further 11% growth in year-on-year spending for the first half of 2015,
  • The number of pirate sites in the top 250 visited websites in Spain has been cut in half since 2012, partly due to ISP blocks but also as a result of changing consumer behavior.

As is believed to be the case in the many Scandinavian success stories, streaming music services are driving a return to legal consumption for many Spanish music fans. The movie industry will hope to see similar results in the coming year, as Netflix gets ready to launch in Spain and bring all the competitive attention that its presence in a market tends to catalyze.

In such a piracy black spot, this news represents a positive development that creators and rights holders will hope can move from short-term trend to long-term habit.

After all, the more nations that can successfully balance education with enforcement, while at the same time introducing the kind of legal content services that consumers enjoy, the more chance we have of seeing this national progress turn into a global phenomenon.

 

 

As Legal Viewing Options Grow Globally, Excuses for Piracy Recede

Following a study by KMPG earlier this year that showed the vast majority of popular or critically-acclaimed movies are legally available online in the U.S., the same research criteria have been applied across the Atlantic.

The results? Very similar availability and an ever-expanding universe of outstanding entertainment for British viewers, all instantly accessible via legitimate online services.

Here are some of the report’s headlines for the UK market:

  • All of the top 100 movies at the 2012 box office are offered on at least one of the services;
  • 96% of the country’s all time box office hits are offered on at least one of the services;
  • 90% of independent films were available on at least one service;
  • 75% of top UK 100 TV shows were also available on at least one service.

In actual fact many of the numbers above could be higher as the study doesn’t take into account options like time-shifted viewing available from cable providers or similar services that act as content recorders.

All in all, the findings on both sides of the Atlantic mirror one another and encompass a trend that is inevitably going global. Thousands of services are available across Europe and the incentive for the most successful of them to expand into other international markets is clear. Legal options for the most in-demand and culturally valuable entertainment are coming online all the time, neutralizing one of the last lingering excuses for those who typically take it for free.

The hope for creative industries around the world will be that the rising popularity of legal online entertainment, which provide quick, easy access and improve the consumer’s experience compared to illegal options, will persuade those in more notorious markets to move away from piracy.

If the success of legitimate channels of content consumption continues to grow by turning torrents and illegal downloads into real revenue, the investment in that content and those who create it will be all the greater.

 

 

 

China Walks the Line Between Celebrity and Censorship

When it comes to controlling content, the Chinese government is more vigilant than most. A familiar frenemy to most major U.S. tech companies, it frequently clashes with the likes of Google to filter our search results and content that it finds objectionable (which doesn’t take much).

While the country undoubtedly wants the connections and revenue that come with attracting such major brands and services to its shores, the commitment to freedom of information that they bring is far less appealing.

China flag in front of aerials

Can China continue to obstruct digital airwaves? | Image Credit: Mark Tollerman

Now it appears that TV and movies will be the next content frontier on which this China censorship battle will be fought.

Through a series of convoluted red tape measures, Chinese internet service providers who plan to air imported shows will be subject to increased scrutiny and editing before popular titles like “The Big Bang Theory” and  “Breaking Bad” can hit China’s screens. For companies who could otherwise immediately serve up these headline shows to an eager domestic audience the delays are likely to grate.

The piracy angle to this story is perhaps the most frustrating, given that availability is such a crucial part of the formula for convincing viewers to use legal services. When shows aren’t available via a legitimate platform, the chances are that they can be accessed through an illegitimate one. In this case everyone except the piracy site loses, as legal services are denied a paying viewer, revenue is lost to the original creator, and even China’s government fails in its mission to censor an imported show. Many titles on piracy sites simply run in their original, unedited form, potentially cutting the government out of the loop entirely.

This comes at a time when China’s curious mix of capitalism-backed Communism has its own media giants extending their reach into Hollywood. Alibaba, for one, is coming off the back of a hugely successful IPO and a strong financial quarter, with a significant part of its plans to capture new users lying in the U.S. creative industries. On the export side, American studios are showing huge interest in further exploration of the Chinese movie-going market, where imported films are already subject to quota yet make up a little less than half of the country’s box office.

With such a rapid acceleration of its entertainment industry on both the import and export front, China’s government is going to have to balance an increasing number of spinning plates as it seeks to censor incoming content, curb piracy that circumvents its efforts, and still exploit the economic value that the creative industries present.