According to Irdeto piracy is not a single behavior, but rather a continuum of behaviors that make up “The Piracy Continuum”, which the company explained in detail in a 23-page whitepaper, which we summarized for you:
Content owners, content distributors and security vendors have traditionally characterized digital “pirates” as a single group of criminals with ill intentions. This, however, is a serious mistake, not only in understanding the reasons behind why people turn to piracy, but also when identifying methods to mitigate the threat and potentially learn lessons to generate unforeseen profit.
The industry’s over-generalized characterization of pirates has led to a mind-set where security has become nothing more than a line item cost of business; just one of many on an overall bill of materials required to deliver media to consumers. This approach, and the ensuing decisions on security budgets, technology and service choices, policy, lobbying, business and legal decisions and other aspects of content delivery, has led to an approach that doesn’t allow content owners or platform operators to fully unleash their contents’ potential.
However, smart steps can be taken to increase the likelihood of consumers accessing legitimate content and to manage piracy in an effort to reduce the pace at which it proliferates.
In the online video business, for example, high quality networks and devices have lowered the barriers to piracy substantially, meaning that legitimate services need to improve in order to provide consumers with alternatives and avoid revenue losses to piracy. Understanding where the threats lie – and what can be done to counter them – is pivotal to successfully growing in the future.
Within Irdeto’s Piracy Continuum, there are six groups of distinct pirates:
1. Criminals – “I make money on your content”
Criminals set up networks of employees to actively attack protection that is guarding content with the intention of selling either the mechanisms for getting around the security, such as set-top box smart cards, or the content itself. In some cases, criminals even set up rings within Hollywood to capture a pristine digital copy of a movie and then sell bootleg copies on the street of major cities, creating a substantial revenue stream. Compared to hackers, the criminals are organized as opposed to ad hoc and keep their methods to themselves so that they can generate revenue by selling their piracy solutions.
GOAL: Deploy renewable content security to prevent piracy and effectively gather information for legal actions to take place.
2. Hackers – “Let’s see how fast I can crack the security”
Hackers actively try to break down the protection that is securing content to gain access to it. However, the ultimate goal is not the content itself, but the intellectual satisfaction of finding ways to bypass the security. They view this as a challenge to test their skills against professionals in order to gain reputation among their peers. There are a number of tools that have been created to bypass security measures, and if those do not work, the hackers will modify them or create new ones.
Eventually, there is no such thing as a completely secure system. If the content that an operator is offering is of value then the system they are using will be under attack. Many hackers communicate with their peers to work together to bypass different parts of content protection schemes. Though the hackers motivations are entirely different than criminals (they don’t seek commercial gain from their activity), the economic impact on the content owner and their distribution chain can be equally as damaging as criminal activity.
GOAL: To counter this group and prevent their work from becoming commercially exploited, content providers should use dynamic security systems (whether conditional access or DRM-based) that are renewable and capable of adapting quickly to unforeseen threats.
3. Casual Pirates –”I’m only doing this once in a while... who’s it going to hurt?”
A casual pirate is someone who knows how to download illegal content and occasionally chooses to do so. The challenge when dealing with this group is that they do not believe they are doing anything wrong, that their individual activity will have impact or worse yet, that they may not care that it is illegal. According to a study by Advanced Television, 70% of people do not believe it is wrong to download content as long as they are not making money from selling it to others.
The casual pirate is often a voracious consumer of video, and uses a variety of easily available resources on the Internet to find and obtain the content they want to consume – whether from Peer to Peer (P2P) sites, Cyberlockers, Usenet newsgroups or streaming sites. Increasingly, they use VPN proxies to defeat geographic restrictions and to hide their activities from their ISPs, which is especially important in regions where piracy activity is monitored and punished. The casual pirate does not attack content protection systems to gain access to content, so if the content is not available from pirate sources, they may turn to legitimate sources for the content.
Goal: To address this part of the “Piracy Continuum”, a variety of measures must be taken, using technologies like watermarking to identify the source of content leakage, piracy management services to track down illegal content on the Internet and get it removed and legal measures to address to worst offenders and educating the casual pirate about the economic impact of their “casual” activity. In addition, Over-the-Top and TV Everywhere services like Comcast XFinity TV, ViaPlay, Mediaset Premium Play and many others offer consumers a legitimate alternative to piracy that they may even get at no additional cost beyond their basic pay TV subscription, reducing their overall need to commit piracy.
4. Frustrated Consumers – “I want to buy it but it’s not available”
The frustrated consumer is exactly what it sounds like. This is someone who is looking for something and is frustrated because it is not readily and legally available. In some cases, this can be an accessibility issue, such as streaming video content to a particular tablet that is not supported. In other cases it is the lack of content availability, most often due to geo-restrictions. If operators are not offering what consumers want, they are going to look for alternative methods to access it, including going to a competitor or moving up The Piracy Continuum and becoming a casual pirate.
Today, one of the most common examples of this issue is popular U.S. series, which are eventually distributed to individual TV stations globally, but can take months if not years to subtitle or dub and work into a regional broadcast schedule. This has created a booming market for illegally distributed TV shows, which usually become available (with advertising removed) within hours of their first broadcast – especially if they are the most popular ones. Within hours, many of them get downloaded by tens of thousands of consumers worldwide. Fortunately, this group is willing to pay for content and will seek out legitimate means to acquire it if it is readily available at a reasonable price, within a reasonable period, and on their devices of choice.
Goal: Content owners must change their distribution strategies to meet changing consumer needs.
5. Confused Consumers –”It’s legitimate... isn’t it?”
The confused consumer is starting to find video online but is not aware that the content may be illegally placed on the site they are visiting. One of the most confusing aspects of online video for consumers is when they search for popular content and end up on sites that appear to be legitimate – including banner advertising from reputable companies – but are actually set up by illegal re-broadcasters seeking to profit from ad revenue generated on their sites. In fact, research by Ofcom shows that there is considerable confusion found among consumers with 47% of them not able to identify whether the online content they downloaded, streamed or shared was legal or not. The confused consumer group is starting to become aware of alternative content sources that are available but are still willing to pay for the content they view.
Goal: To counter this trend operators and studios have to mark content so that it can be identified and issue takedown notices to remove the content that is made illegally available. They also have to attack illegal streaming by working with advertisers to remove their ads from streaming sites, thus breaking the pirate’s business model. As well, content has to be made available to the confused consumer in the way they want, and they must be effectively educated on how to access it. This provides the opportunity to expand beyond broadcast transmission to offer broadband services providing additional value to the consumer.
6. Consumers – “I’m happy with the content I already pay for or get for free.”
The final group is the consumer. These are what would be considered “traditional” pay TV subscribers who have access to content solely through legitimate means, and are satisfied with what is offered. There could be a number of reasons why this group is happy today. The consumer could simply be satisfied with the offering, meaning that they are getting the content they want on their device of choice, most likely the TV. They may have higher tier subscription packages giving them access to more content, such as live sports or movies. They may also be augmenting their pay TV subscription with a reasonably priced and easy-to-use OTT offering, such as Netflix or Hulu, to get the content they want.
Apple already controls 65 per cent of digital movie sales, according to research by IHS Screen Digest. Digital delivery of content saw sales rise 51 per cent to $3.42 billion in 2011, up from $2.26 billion in 2010. Netflix has over 26 million subscribers, and Hulu Plus has grown to more than 2 million paying subscribers in only a few years.
However, as new options become available they may supplement their subscription with alternative sources which may lead them to reduce, or even eliminate, their existing subscription. So, to keep consumers happy, operators must offer them the content and services they want, and educate them on their availability and how to get the most value from them. The challenge with this group is to offer services before they start to become dissatisfied and seek out alternatives, which could move them to become confused or frustrated consumers. (Source: irdeto.com)