What the future holds in the battle against online piracy

5 February marks Safer Internet Day. All week on Yahoo Movies UK we’re going to be exploring the murky world of online piracy, how it affects the film industry and you.

Content is going through a revolution. Streaming providers are nominated for Oscars, social influencers have upended the traditional PR model, you can listen to almost any song you want at any time, and going out and buying a paper has been replaced with apps and free news.

“The rapid advance of digital platforms changing how and when young people access content has been incredibly freeing in many ways,” says Yasmin Nevard from The Industry Trust. “Linear schedules are alien to many young people who instead are used to being able to get whatever they want whenever they want it.”

The system is constantly evolving, but one negative is online pirates who have prospered by breaking the law, offering content-hungry punters used to getting what they want – when they want it – exactly that.

“Criminals adapt and find ways of beating the systems,” says Kieron Sharp from the Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT). “The commercial drive to provide content to users in as many ways as possible, the amazing technologies available and increasing demand from consumers, also provides the incentives for the illegal supply chain to evolve and it requires the correct measures to be taken in order to minimise the losses and protect the content.”

So how do you combat it? The industry itself thinking about ways to be flexible in the way they release material and negate the need for piracy is an important discussion to be had, but illegal streamers also need to be weaned off the habit by having the risks and dangers better communicated to them.

<i>Game of Thrones</i> is just one of many shows affected by piracy (HBO)
Game of Thrones is just one of many shows affected by piracy (HBO)

“Every time you access pirated content to listen to your favourite artist or watch your favourite film or TV show, you could be exposed to dangerous malware and the risk of fraud,” explains Sharp. “The criminal gangs who produce modified set-top boxes or run unauthorised websites and apps make their money by installing spam ads, viruses and malware and think nothing of putting your expensive devices or personal details at risk.”

“There is so much evidence to suggest the degree of personal risk people can expose themselves to by obtaining content illegally,” adds Nevard. “Fraud, malware and viruses are just some of the real risks we want to make sure everyone is aware of.”

Government intervention can also be valuable. The ‘Get it Right from a Genuine Site’ campaign just had another £2million pumped into it, keeping it funded until 2021. Focusing on education, it tries to direct consumers, via messages from your content provider, to official content channels. The scheme is backed by the Motion Picture Association and the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) amongst others.

“The research into the campaign has shown it really makes a difference and that a positive campaign that is relevant to fans can help change the way people think about accessing content online,” says Ian Moss from the BPI.

Sometimes though, it’s about providing clarity and guidance – which is where ideas like come into play.

“ is a handy solution as it clearly signposts the easiest legal ways to access content at the cinema, on disc or digitally, so it helps people avoid the pitfalls associated with content found through official channels,” says Yasmin Nevard. “While also flagging the latest releases to make the process of finding what you want as seamless as possible.”

Being reminded just how brilliant it is to experience art and culture in the best possible way is also vital to ensuring future audiences engage with content correctly.

“The Moments Worth Paying For campaign which runs in cinemas reminds paying audiences of the benefits of enjoying a shared experience with your friends and family, while underlining the hard work that goes on behind the scenes to bring these moments to the screen,” continues Nevard.

“These are just two of the ways the Industry Trust and its partners engage with audiences but much of what goes on alongside that focuses on providing clear information, whether that’s through highlighting risks that many young people might not have considered, or simply providing access to information about the latest releases and the best physical and digital formats to make sure the viewing experience when it comes to any film or TV show is as good as it should be.”

So if we want a future of more groundbreaking TV shows, thoughtful and entertaining movies as well as iconic albums, it’s about working together to make it happen – understanding the impact of piracy, taking responsibility for our crucial role in the infrastructure of content creation and above all recognising that great art deserves to be rewarded.

Read more
The hidden victims of piracy
Why piracy is more dangerous than you think
How piracy puts children in danger
The myth of the legal ‘grey area’ around piracy