by Liz Bales, Chief Executive, British Association for Screen Entertainment (BASE) — 22 February 2023
“It is time to encourage the wider community to play their part”:
Consumers now have more ways to watch than ever before. During the pandemic, flagship subscription services opened gateways to new worlds that audiences could explore from the confines of their homes, while transactional services offered an oasis of choice during a period of unparalleled isolation.
This has, in turn, led to an increase in infringement behaviours, and the wider normalisation. The British Association for Screen Entertainment (BASE) has articulated this change, the implications for the creative industries, and a collaborative response to combatting it where more invested parties come together to tackle the big issue of infringement, in Piracy: A Problem Shared, a summary of the current state of infringement and how to address it.
The issues at a glance
In the UK, an increased proportion of 25- to 44-year-olds are engaging in infringement with social media also taking on a bigger role. The sense of community offered to young people while pirating content on social platforms is derailing what may have been an individual act in the past.
Notably, entry points to piracy are now all too easy. With mainstream devices and internet searches inadvertently enabling infringement, convenience continues to be a catalyst. Worryingly, this action often takes place on legal streaming devices, such as the Firestick and Chromecast, which have had illegal apps added. Innovation within the infringement sector has enabled a growing population to feel ‘safe’ while accessing illegal content due to piracy sites gaining a slicker look and feel, however, according to findings from Crimestoppers, 4.812 million illegal streamers experienced a virus, fraud or personal data theft last year.
With increased access to unsafe content comes a host of personal risks including viruses, exposure to malware, and more.
A whole society solution to infringement
A whole society solution is now imperative to tackle infringement behaviours, and one that encompasses many more of those who benefit from the audio-visual industry. Engagement of policymakers and technology companies to increased education efforts, everyone has a part to play in delivering change.
For Policymakers, the ask is to embrace due diligence protocols for intermediaries providing commercial services to online businesses, the ‘Know Your Business Customer’. Technology companies can take advantage of a host of anti-infringement initiatives such as improved customer identification and verification. In the UK, identifying the intermediaries responsible for making unauthorised content available on the internet and removing it remains a major challenge, but with the support of technology companies, underpinned by regulation, it could be far easier. With the ease of access playing a major role in the normalisation of infringement, increasing friction – especially through legal devices – would deter many infringers.
Educational efforts could be extended to encompass a greater range of companies that benefit from copyright and the creative endeavours of others– and there are a lot! Education to influence consumer attitudes and behaviours has been effective in the past. For example, 47% of those shown the Moments Worth Paying For cut of the Ghostbusters Afterlife trailer said it made them want to support the industry. While 61% of those shown the Crimestoppers branded advertising campaign say it “puts them off piracy”. Expanding this to a wider set of stakeholders to engage a larger proportion of our audience with relevant constructive messaging could deliver a material impact. All of these points can be further supported by the introduction of specific and tailored law enforcement that addresses the criminal activity of malvertising on infringing websites.
Together we have the power, the knowledge, and the means to address the growing issue of piracy. It is time to unite, and become a wider community in action.