Are Services Like Netflix Making Piracy Obsolete?

Internet piracy has been an ongoing problem for the better part of a decade. The numbers are staggering, with 22 percent of the global internet’s bandwidth used to download copyrighted content. While we can debate all day about the moral implications, we can all agree that Hollywood considers rampant online piracy a bad thing for their revenues. Despite all their efforts put into scare tactics to put a dent in piracy, there seems to be no real solution on the horizon for them. Streaming sites, however, have been seeing increased usage by people who wish to forego piracy and pay for the convenience of unlimited streaming at any device. Are services like Netflix ultimately going to provide an answer to the piracy question?

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Before diving head first into this subject, we have to understand the motivations for piracy. While I don’t have exact proportions for each category, it’s very important to become aware of what those categories are. The primary motivation for piracy, of course, is the financial incentive of not paying repeatedly for a movie you’re only going to watch once or a piece of software you may be taking a risk in purchasing.

There are, of course, other (somewhat understandable) reasons for engaging in this practice.

  • The item being pirated is not going to be released in the person’s country any time soon.
  • The person wants to ‘test’ a piece of software before considering a purchase.
  • The person missed the show or movie being┬átelevised.

One of the key reasons why television is beginning to experience a downfall in viewership is primarily because the Internet offers much more attractive options. YouTube, for one, has been providing on-demand content from millions of channels for several years. Netflix and Hulu have been streaming TV shows and movies for a while now as well.

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Go-Gulf made a neat infographic giving us a picture of how prevalent piracy is and what people are downloading. By looking at the numbers you can see that movies and television shows are among the most pirated items on the Internet. This is mostly due to the fact that people experience many roadblocks to watching the content they want due to the reasons we have previously discussed. One of the easiest ways to curb that is to provide a paid service that streams shows and movies on demand legally.

A study in Norway conducted in mid-2013 demonstrated about as much, saying that piracy has declined in the country due to the availability of services like Spotify and Netflix, which provided low-cost on demand streaming of both movies and music. Netflix’s CEO even came out on June 2015 to give credit to piracy for the reason behind the company’s growth. This has only stood to reaffirm that low-cost streaming services (or streaming services supported by advertising dollars) can put the dent in piracy that the RIAA and MPAA have always wanted. The best part about it? No one is getting arrested or sued. Instead they are voluntarily shifting to using a legal means to access their content.

Of course, piracy is not going away anytime soon, but the fact that we have found a voluntary means of reducing it rather than using force has shown that sometimes you can find peaceful means of resolving a long-standing issue.

Do you think that streaming services are the answer that producers have been looking for? Tell us what you think in a comment!