Pirated films being sold in the Red Light Dist...

Pirated films being sold in the Red Light District, Singapore (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Piracy is a global problem.

Some places have it worse than others, and authorities in Singapore are realizing just how much of a fight they have on their hands.  Specifically, youth piracy is a major concern in this small Asian country with a big trade in illegal content. And could what’s happening in Singapore be a sign of things to come elsewhere?

A study by Sycamore Research suggests that 70% of young people aged 16-24 in Singapore habitually access pirated content, one of the worst rates in the Asia-Pacific region. The situation is made worse when combined with another finding, that 90% of adverts presented on these sites are for other illegal activities, such as the gambling or sex industries.

 

Local Action, Global Concern

Piracy trends have a tendency to spread. Quickly.

With much of the Asia-Pacific region – and especially Singapore – having access to higher speed broadband connections than the U.S. and Western Europe, this study offers something of a window into the future for the rest of the world. If piracy is allowed to go unchecked, especially among younger audiences as they form their content consumption habits, any country could easily experience the same kind of economic damage  that now faces Singapore.

There’s also the reality that a significant proportion of U.S. entertainment earnings come from overseas markets. Rampant piracy in other countries still hits American creators right in the wallet, inhibiting their ability and desire to make the future productions that we sometimes take for granted. The potential for the effects to spread to surrounding regions and, eventually, to the U.S. itself are . After all, if everyone else is allowed to get away with content theft, why should Americans pay?

That validation is a very real threat as access spreads and connection speeds increase.

 

Youth Piracy: A Gateway to Crime

As well as being a criminal activity in its own right, piracy presents a worrying route for the young and impressionable to head down.

A report by the Digital Citizens Alliance earlier this year explained just how much pirate sites make from the largely negative advertising that goes hand in hand with stolen content. The fact that children are exposed to this sort of material while already engaged in an illegal act only compounds the corrosive effects of content theft.

Every element of this report should sound immediate alarm bells for U.S. lawmakers. Creative industries are a powerful force here, both economically and culturally-speaking. Without sufficient protection from effective copyright law and education for new generations on the ethical side of entertainment choices, increased connection speeds could easily see our existing piracy problem accelerate completely out of control.

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