Tempting as the “free” video web-streams that are a guilty pleasure for many may be, you’re not getting these things for free. Someone else is paying for your stolen pleasures—the creators of the video streams you’re accessing for free, as well as their families who have to live with their losses of income because piracy has jacked into streaming video services.
This was the point this year’s celebration of World Intellectual Property Day (WIPD) sought to bring home as it underscored the ongoing impact that intellectual property rights (IPR) make in encouraging innovation and creativity. Piracy kills creativity. If the content creators suffer losses of income and opportunity from piracy, then they will be less motivated to create and put their creations online where the public can enjoy these videos.
In the creative sphere, patents, trademarks and copyrights are essential to protecting the work of original content creators, enabling them to profit from their work and fuel their next big idea—it takes resources, including financial resources, to create the content they offer to the public.
As part of the Philippines’ commemoration of WIPD, the local creative industry honored the genius and courage of Filipino men and women who are shaping local cinema, TV, music, literature and other artistic fields. These creative fork inspire the next generation of content creators, raise the bar for their industries, and champion legal means of content consumption.
Filipinos now typically consume content through the internet and, in today’s digital world, the illegal downloading and streaming of content is a widespread problem that threatens to deprive content creators of an ecosystem where creativity and innovation can thrive.
There is a very human price paid for piracy. Online piracy threatens more than just the livelihoods of those in the production of films and television—actors, directors, writers, and producers, camera operators, stuntmen, professional costume designers and make-up artists—and everyone else involved in the creative community, from distribution, to exhibition, television and online.
Protecting the film industry
Research shows that P2P file-sharing piracy was tracked at 502 million film and television downloads in 2017. While these numbers have declined slightly, streaming piracy is spiraling out of control, according to custom data compiled by online analytics company Alexa. The data from Alexa shows that the average online streaming video user in the Philippines has increased their use of illegal streaming websites by 74% between 2016 and 2017.
According to an analysis of Alexa data collated in 2016, Filipino users accessed piracy websites over 22 million times, compared to the 18 million visits they made to the iFlix, NetFlix and Hooq for movies and television shows.
Pirate websites profited from content theft, depriving the actual creators of these content who invested heavily in the production and distribution of content.
“The widespread practice of illegal streaming and downloading sends our community of Filipino filmmakers a troubling message that Filipino audiences do not value their creative thinking and unique artistry,” Quantum Films producer lawyer Joji Alonso said. “As a nation of movie-lovers and story-tellers, we need to change this mindset that tolerates piracy as unavoidable and acceptable.”
The Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP), the main government agency in charge of implementing programs for the growth of the film industry, underscored the negative impact of online piracy to the economy and the lifeblood of the film industry.
“Even with recent legitimate streaming sites offering services to the public, online piracy is still a significant problem to the film industry. From 2016-2017, there’s a 75% increase in Philippine page views for illegal online streaming.” FDCP chairperson Liza Diño said. “The local film industry contributes P11 billion to the Philippine economy, there is still certainly much cause for concern. Studies show that revenues can increase by 15% (P 1.6 Billion) if piracy is addressed.”
The number of legitimate sources for content that are competitively priced is growing—and this should address the growth in demand for streaming content at lower costs. Filipinos have access to a variety of subscription-based streaming services available on different platforms, though with the growing popularity of internet-enabled TV, mobile devices and media boxes, customers may not be aware that these devices are often used to access films, television and sports content illegally.
“We must join forces in making the public aware of the massive copyright infringement through Plug and Play infringement that internet-streaming devices (ISDs) promote,” Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHIL) director-general Josephine Santiago said. “We dread [seeing] the day when theaters and televisions would be airing no new content—when filmmakers and producers would have lost all passion and interest in their craft owing to piracy. Let us not make this happen.”
The government, creative industries, internet and telecommunications providers must work together to find solutions to online piracy in the country, Santiago said. Major markets across the globe have implemented site-blocking measures that have proven effective in preventing the illegal sharing and consumption of copyrighted content, including digital rights management (DRM) safeguards. These measure have been adopted by 42 countries worldwide In February, a report by Incopro on site blocking in Australia found that the usage of those websites targeted by blocking orders lead to a decline of 53.4%.
In the Philippines, Globe Telecom was acknowledged for its #PlayItRight campaign, an initiative to help the entertainment industry curb piracy and protect intellectual property rights. Since its launch in 2017, the campaign has led to blocking illegal torrent sites, particularly those that carry child pornography, which is illegal in the Philippines.
“As the preferred partner of several global content creators we want to ensure that our customers understand the value of legal content so that our network will not be used for illegal activities. Globe is committed to protect Filipino families and the youth, alongside our local and global content partners through our #PlayItRight advocacy,” Globe SVP for corporate communications Yoly Crisanto said. “You also don’t want to download the ‘additional’ content that may come with illegal content streams—malware that can hijack your data,” including your identity data.
Alonso, Diño, Santiago and Crisanto noted that, to truly achieve a significant impact on the fight against piracy, the public and private sectors must work together to develop a customized site-blocking model against infringing websites, and establish legislation that will provide policy-driven action against illegal downloading and streaming of content. –AAC