The Anti Piracy Tactics

If you’ve ever tried to sell anything online with any sort of digital component then you’ve probably experienced some form of piracy. Let’s face it, anything digital is going to be shared or sold for free somewhere on the internet. Many companies try a variety of methods to combat piracy but few success unless you’re selling the sort of product that can support a dongle or physical access device in the price.

For those who sell lower price goods like computer software, dvds, films and music obviously such a physical device is not financially sustainable and so they suffer at the hands of internet pirates. A common tactic over the last few years has been to target individuals who download these files and effectively steal the content.

It’s a bit of a hit and miss approach fraught with difficulties. Firstly you have to obtain the names, IP addresses and addresses of people who have downloaded such content. This is not physically that difficult to do, because the ISPs hold logs of everything we download and access for several years. Obtaining these through the law courts though can be time consuming and expensive. Then there are more legal issues, as the names and addresses are only of the owner of the broadband connection, not necessarily the people who were actually downloading the content.

In practice as well the whole download culture of the internet has actually decriminalized this sort of copyright theft. Clicking on a link can often download content before you realize it’s happened. Many people routinely watch ITV in Spain through a proxy or Sky Sports through a foreign streaming site without a second thought. Dragging tens of thousands of individual cases through the courts is completely impractical method of dealing with the issue.

Most of the big operators in the digital world have changed their targets from the end user to the people who are actually making money directly out of piracy. A web site might not actually be much more than a portal to a torrent of a pirated movie – but it could still be benefiting financially through advertising or sponsor ship on their site. It’s important for the advertisers too as they will not likely be keen to have their brand and product displayed on a web page which infringes copyright laws.

Pressure therefore can be applied in several ways – the ISPs to block access to the websites involved, the advertising companies and the direct revenue of the people hosting the content. It’s much simpler to target a few bigger organisations and companies, than try and police hundreds of thousands of net users, many of whom cover their tracks when accessing anything online by using proxies and encryption to obscure their identities.