Recently, the list of the films most illegally downloaded last year was announced. Surprisingly, the number one title on the list wasn’t Disney’s hugely successful Frozen, with its thousands of spin-off products filling up Christmas sacks around the world this festive period. Instead it was Martin Scorsese’s epic, The Wolf of Wall Street, that took the title with close to 30 million downloads according to research carried out by piracy-tracking firm Excipio.
Despite both films being released in 2013, their popularity in the 2014 illegal download charts underlines that movie piracy has a family-wide audience. For all the plaudits about the family values of frozen, there are the detractors of the adult-themed Wolf of Wall Street with its true tales of sex, drugs and stock market investing. However, it is worth noting that 2014's highest grossing film, The Guardians of the Galaxy doesn't appear in the top 20 - suggesting that the tipping point for film piracy is its release onto DVD. Frozen, for instance, was released onto DVD back in March whilst The Guardians of the Galaxy didn't hit the High Streets until the end of November.
Movie piracy continues to be a huge problem for the film industry. Black Market consultancy Havocscope suggest it deprives the industry of over $2.5 billion annually. Many "consumers" of the counterfeit products or illegal downloads do not think they are doing anything wrong. But they are. Not only does the illegal downloading of films from torrent websites deprive the legitimate rights holder of revenue, it puts additional pressure on the Internet infrastructure. NetNames estimates that around 24% of the world's Internet traffic is actually related to piracy. Between 2010 and 2012 this traffic has estimated to have grown by 160%.
Whilst on-demand media such as NetFlix and Amazon Instant have had a positive impact on digital piracy in many global markets, our appetite to consume the latest titles has continued to fuel the illegal practice.
For any IP right holder involved in digital media, whether it's films, songs, video games or software, digital piracy is still the number one headache in terms of brand protection. Whilst the need to have a formalised strategy to try to combat the issue is essential, creating a customer/consumer facing statement on how to identify counterfeit products is also a wise move. There is a percentage of counterfeit products that are bought, whether online or offline, in the belief that they are legitimate. Ignorance is of course, no defence of the law, but education is also important.
Written by Stuart Fuller, Director of Commercial Operations and Communications, NetNames.