Film – Piracy: Lessons from Music

Piracy continues to be a grave concern for all content producers, with film studios, producers and distributors particularly wary of the dangers. That said, the solution is not so simple as taking a hard line and pursuing and aggressive stance on digital rights management (DRM). This was the original approach taken by the music industry, to catastrophic effect, and it is notable that all tracks sold on the iTunes store are now DRM-free.

Eric Nicoli, the former CEO and chairman of EMI was honest about the failure of the music giant to engage with a change that was far more profound than anyone imagined. Few foresaw the music world would be turned upside down. Looking back, he agreed it was dangerous to hold on to the status quo too tightly but that does not mean he is now in favour of a free-for-all.

The value and protection of intellectual property is the basis of commerce, but it also rests to a degree on the consent of customers. Consumers, for example, have demanded the ability to use bought content on multiple devices. Any business framework has to balance protection with legitimate demand.

A workable framework is one that finds a balance, although attaining that, of course, is fraught with risk. Make the controls too tight and you lose innovators and customers.

Interestingly, recent reports suggest that illegal downloaders, or ‘freeloaders’, spend just 1% less on recorded music than those who pay for downloads.

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