Pirate Flag

Anti-piracy tactics are changing from more direct methods like prosecution. Persuasion and more subtle forms of behavior modification are the name of the name among content producers and anti-piracy tech companies. In fact, some creators are actively allowing the viewer access to their productions in these cases, for a defined (and very much by design) duration.

Same Technology, New Approach
The technology itself is not all that new, comprising audio watermarking solutions provided by companies like Verance.  Its tech utilizes a low, inaudible hum that is placed into the original soundtrack of a film but not into the official DVD and Blu-ray releases. Detection of the signal by an enabled player then flags illegal copies, offering content owners the ability to shut down viewing and rendering the copy useless. According to Quartz, reporting via the over half of the highest grossing movies in 2012 made use of this technology.
Problem solved?
Perhaps not, says the WSJ as some savvy studios are exploring a more behavior-based approach to combating pirated material. Understanding that the viewer has a clear, albeit ethically-challenged desire to consume their content, producers are allowing a period of around 20 minutes before the shut-down signal is triggered. At this point, with the viewers’ interest piqued and time invested, they are directed to a legal alternative to purchase the content.
The same end result but a more subtle, suggestive approach, an element that has perhaps been lacking in the more direct enforcement efforts of the past.
One Anti-Piracy Measure Among Many
Of course there is no suggestion that this specific measure addresses all forms of pirate activity, given that it relies upon watermark-enabled players and physical copies of a movie. The entertainment industry as a whole is moving towards a more streaming-based model for content delivery, as Kevin Spacey hit the headlines for highlighting this week. As content is increasingly accessed online, the challenge for creators and distributors is to provide a more compelling, secure platform for consumers.
What the story demonstrates is on just how many fronts creators are embracing technology to persuade rather than prosecute consumers into legally accessing their productions. The anti-piracy struggle  is as vigorous as ever, but the methods being pursued by copyright advocates are becoming more nuanced.
Seeking to satisfy and engage consumer desires before pursuing more aggressive anti-piracy measures would appear to be the best way forward for the entertainment industry. Changing behavior will require a more involved approach, but the long term pay off in lowering revenue lost to pirate activity should make it worth the effort.
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