Hadley Simmons / Android Authority
Ask yourself this question: “Am I a pirate?” In other words, have you recently been involved in content piracy? If you don’t think so because you haven’t fired a BitTorrent client or visited a piracy-centric website in a long time, you might want to think again.
Downloading torrents is not the only way to pirate content. Have you ever used someone else’s Netflix account? This is piracy because you are using content that you would otherwise have to pay for. The person who made their account freely is also taking advantage of the piracy.
Although abandoned now, YouTube Vanced was a way to pirate an experience that would typically cost you money. Popcorn Time, now gone, was another very popular way to stream paid content for free – but piracy.
Over the past few years, the lines between pirates and non-pirates have become blurred. But one thing is for sure: after a long fall in piracy around the world, the work of swallowing content that you didn’t pay for is on the rise again. This time, it might be staying here.
See also: The best video streaming service
Rise and fall of piracy
Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority
In the early days of Internet piracy, things mostly revolved around MP3 sharing services such as Napster and Limewire. These services make it much easier to pirate music than to visit a store and buy a physical recording. During this time the practice of receiving music illegally spread on the college campus. Stephen Witt’s book How Music Got Free:
Music piracy turned into drug testing in the late 90’s and late 60’s: a breach of both a generation-wide social norm and existing laws, little thought about the consequences.
Over the years, file-sharing has gone beyond music to include TV shows, movies, video games, computer software, books, and more. In 1998, the United States government passed the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). In order to combat piracy, it has given legal entities the necessary teeth to fight digital piracy and at the same time prevent content providers from being held liable for copyright infringement by their users.
Unfortunately, this did not work well. This has made it easier for pirates to be tried, but outside of some high-profile cases, most pirates were not afraid of the DMCA. Piracy continues to grow.
Related reading: The best free music download site that is legal
Then, an interesting thing happened: Netflix. In 2007, the company began streaming selected portions of video content on the Internet, giving users a way to instantly watch movies and TV shows for a monthly fee. Netflix’s success in this area has spawned multiple video streaming services, including Amazon Prime Video, Hulu and most recently Disney Plus and Apple TV Plus.
Trying to stop the pirates with the law did not solve the problem. People have been given the opportunity to eat content in a low cost, easy and legal way.
Similarly, Spotify, Pandora, and Deezer have given users access to millions of hours of popular music. Today, we also have services like Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, which acts as “Netflix of video games”.
In other words, trying to stop pirates by law did not solve the problem. Giving people a low cost way to easily swallow content has worked legally. Although piracy has never been eradicated, it has been declining year after year.
Trying to control piracy
Calvin Wankhede / Android Authority
Although streaming services helped slow down the piracy, they were not magic bullets. Piracy is waxed and reduced depending on various factors. For example, an economic downturn usually leads to high levels of piracy because people can no longer afford services. Location-blocking content creates a void where piracy can spread. After all, if you can’t get legal content because of where you live, you’re inevitably going to find a way around that limitation.
However, the biggest father of all of them is the COVID-19 epidemic, which caused a major upheaval in piracy. With millions of people trapped in their homes due to lockdowns around the world, the ability to take recreation has become an urgent need. Whether it’s through password sharing, illegal streaming, or even old-fashioned torturing, people seem willing to break the law to keep themselves from going insane. Since 2020, piracy has again gained one tonne of steam.
The COVID-19 epidemic and stagnant economy contributed to the increase in piracy rates and companies were ready to fight it.
Of course, content providers do not allow this to be unchecked. The two most recent anti-piracy changes came from Google and Netflix. Google recently forced YouTube Vansed to shut down the popular piracy tool, which provided a number of features that can usually be obtained by subscribing to YouTube Premium. Meanwhile, Netflix is testing a monthly fee for users who share their accounts with others. The company hopes that this fee will force shareholders to revoke access to passwords and, as a result, pressure shared users to start their own paid subscriptions.
In both cases there is a complete digestive tract. After all, nothing will change for you if you don’t use Vanced for pirating and don’t share your Netflix password. Only pirates are in trouble, aren’t they?
The problem is that this is not an effort Advantage Users by any means. Keep in mind that anti-piracy tools almost never work, as well as giving users easy access to reasonably priced content. As long as companies use carrots instead of stick methods, piracy should be left to its own devices.
However, streaming companies do not seem to understand that.
Raising prices, shutting down users
Netflix recently raised prices across the board, including financial penalties against password sharing. Of course, the company says the increase is due to the cost involved in creating all of its core ingredients. But there is no question that price increases cause churning (users leave subscriptions to competitors) and in some cases resort to piracy.
Amazon has recently increased the price of Prime membership. Hulu’s price has risen in 2021, including live TV, although it now comes with Disney Plus and ESPN Plus. Spotify also increased subscription costs in 2021. Most major streaming platforms seem to see COVID-19 as a viable opportunity to raise prices and make a profit at the expense of the media.
See also: The best live streaming TV service
Price increases are not the only reason companies are doing things that could push users into piracy. Anime streaming platform Crunchyroll recently snatched its ad-supported plan for the new and ongoing series. Prior to this change, anyone could view content for free on Crunchroll if they did not mind viewing the ad. Now, though, this service only works for shows that are no longer in production.
These changes do not make streaming services more attractive than piracy When you combine these with regional restrictions, limitations of streaming devices, blocked downloads, and other common aspects of streaming subscriptions, you begin to understand why anyone can easily find a pirate.
And we haven’t even touched on the biggest problem of pushing users towards piracy.
Streaming fatigue is real
Ryan Haynes / Android Authority
In 2007, Netflix was the only major player in movie and TV streaming. Much has changed since then. Now, there are no media outlets in the area that do not offer subscription-based services.
This creates an irresistible situation for most people. For example, a person who enjoys watching the TV show The Office needs a Peacock subscription. That person will almost certainly enjoy a show like Ted Lasso, which requires an Apple TV Plus subscription. The Good Place is another show they will probably like and requires a Netflix subscription. It’s three different subscriptions just to watch three very popular shows.
Today, to watch three incredibly popular shows, you may need three different subscriptions.
The situation is exacerbated when you consider that one of these streaming services may not offer another interest to this person, which means they only have to pay a subscription fee to watch a program.
Sports programming is more complex. My colleague Rita El Khurri has just moved to France, and she discovered that she had to subscribe to five different services to watch each of her two favorite football teams (football for our Americans) play. That’s just for football. If he wants to throw in tennis, basketball, American football or other sports, he will need some extra subscriptions. This is madness.
Clearly, every streaming platform hopes that its specific content will be strong enough that people will not mind adding it to the pile. It makes sense to have three or four players. But today, even when you move to sports platforms, there are no less than a dozen major streaming services – and more are coming. Inevitably, what is going to happen here for many people is that they will subscribe to a handful of services that offer the most value and then pirate content from others.
Companies are making piracy the most lucrative option
Indomitable Sharma / Android Authority
Famously, Gabe Neil – co-founder of Valve and current president who runs the Steam game platform – wanted to say something about piracy:
The easiest way to stop piracy is not to use anti-piracy technology. It is better to give those people a service than what they get from pirates.
Today, the world of movies and TV streaming is failing to deliver what Neil described.
Originally, streaming services were the advent of cord cutters, meaning the end of a traditional cable subscription to rely solely on Internet-based streaming. The reason consumers came to streaming was because the cable was too expensive and forced them to pay for channels and services they didn’t pay attention to.
Now, instead of solving that problem, streaming services are simply bringing back the same problem. Companies expect people to pay handsomely every month to get access to the content of their choice, even though the rest of the content on the platform is distasteful to them.
Unlike traditional cable, however, it is much easier to piracy in place of Internet streaming. Unless streaming services can give consumers exactly what they want at the price they can afford, piracy is never going to be the least attractive option. Piracy must be here.
Did you pirate any content in 2022?