Last month we reported on a concerning study from the Digital Citizens Alliance (DCA), highlighting the negative effects of content theft sites and the mind-boggling profit margins that they make. The information has prompted plenty of much-needed discussion on the subject.

This Copyright Alliance podcast interview with Tom Galvin, CEO of the Digital Citizens Alliance, presents not only the problem but begins to discuss solutions:

“Not only can [this] crime pay, but it has a corrosive effect,” says Galvin, explaining that “it raises questions about the integrity of the brands. So the brands suffer and the consumers suffer.” In essence, the message  is that only the criminals win when stolen content gains widespread attention.

Even so, Galvin sees a path that could clear some of this criminal activity from the web, or at least make it far more difficult to make so much money from content theft. Solutions include:

  • Working with the advertising community to build better ad delivery systems. Many brands aren’t even aware that their name is being associated with piracy sites, as the ad buying doesn’t focus on individual placement sites, instead reporting only impressions and cost per click.
  • Pushing search engines to take greater ownership of the results they deliver, including weeding out and banning sites that blatant infringe upon content under copyright.
  • Educating consumers about the effects of piracy on the creative community, as well as the hidden dangers and effects of content theft sites, such as malware and identity theft.
  • Clarifying the connection between online piracy and the real world crime to which it is usually linked.

Galvin concludes that this study could just be the tip of the iceberg, especially given the fact that piracy site owners are likely to be involved in other criminal activity as well. On the last bullet point, he explains that content theft is an easy source of “seed money,” with the low barrier to entry and high profit margin providing revenue that is put to even more unpleasant ends.

Education is a large part of righting this wrong, with a concerted effort required from advertisers, creators and consumers moving towards the same objective: a safer Internet that rewards only legitimate sites and licensed content.