Preventing digital piracy: 3 ways to use big data to protect content

Consumer Products Writer

Digital piracy causes lost revenues and diminished asset values for today's media publishers, content companies, service providers and independent creatives.

The issue has posed a challenge for a number of reasons. Consumers of pirated content want it for free, or at least a very low cost. Secondly, media companies often lack the resources to respond to growing demands for free content; the digital media "underworld" moves faster than big businesses, with conglomerates of intelligent hackers and pirates joining forces across the globe. Thirdly, the proliferation of user-generated content allows anyone and everyone to create and distribute content and they may not even realize that they're committing copyright infringement along the way.

When it comes to finding a solution, there is no smoking gun or universal set of best practices to keep pirates away. Companies will need to assemble their asset-protection strategies in bits and pieces to minimize losses and ensure that feedback loops are in place. Big data will be a significant factor in these strategies.

1. Offer streaming services

According to Business Insider, self-reported music piracy rates in Norway have declined from 80 percent in 2009 to 4 percent in 2014. The reason? Most people in the country are using streaming services instead of buying music. Paying for streaming services is often more economical and user-friendly than taking the risks associated with illegal downloading. Rather than purchasing media outright, consumers are buying subscriptions, similar to how businesses may choose to license a data set, product or service.

These subscription platforms create a world of opportunity for media companies. In addition to giving your audiences a product and price point that makes sense, content creators can learn about their buyers' preferences and deliver more personalized services. Data-driven streaming services make the market demand for pirated content obsolete.

2. Build real-time feedback loops

Thanks to platforms like Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Periscope and Twitter, user-generated content is rapidly gaining popularity. This trend presents a wealth of opportunity for media companies, but it also introduces liabilities, as almost anyone can upload and distribute pirated content, even unintentionally. beauty of user-generated content, however, is that it empowers everyone to have a voice and be creative. Media companies need to embrace this and encourage their users, but also find a way to flag potential issues. One company that's managed to do this through data analysis is Periscope, a video livestreaming service. To support compliance with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, the company is using data feedback tools to handle piracy concerns in real-time, according to CNN Money.

3. Conduct your due diligence

Some media spokespeople say that piracy is a big deal, while others take the opposite stance. The truth is that outcomes and risks vary across the board, and some companies have more to lose than others. For this reason, media companies and independent creatives need to conduct thorough rights and royalties impact assessments using collected data. What are the consequences of digital piracy, who's experiencing the loss and what is its impact on customer support and bottom-line revenue?

This granularity will help you focus your digital piracy strategy and ensure that you're responding appropriately. In addition to knowing what's happening and how, you'll likely be able to better understand why people are pirating your content. This understanding may fuel ideas for new product development, a move that, in the long-term, can increase the benefits that you're delivering to consumers and boost your business as a whole.

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