Cyberlocker study finds anti-piracy efforts of “limited impact”
A large scale study measuring the effectiveness of anti-piracty efforts on One-Click Hosters such as cyberlockers (think Megaupload, Rapidshare, Mediafire, and Hotfile) has just been released with some noteworthy results. The study also looked at external indexing sites that maintain links to downloads of illegal content posted/uploaded to the cyberlockers. The indexing sites rely on users to post links to the websites where the infringing content may be downloaded.
The study looked at the “supply” side of pirated content as opposed to the “demand” side. (page 2) The study indicates that anti-circumvention efforts that target the demand side as opposed to the supply side may be more “promising” in combatting massive copyright infringement. It also assessed the effectiveness of 3 types of anti-piracy measures, i.e., DMCA Takedown Notices, lawsuits, cooperative and voluntary removal, and hardware seizure.
As to DMCA Notices, the study indicated, “the effects of current DMCA takedown efforts as an anti-piracy tool are visible and may cause a nuisance to downloaders who encounter occasional broken links. Yet, our data suggests that they remain limited as to the total extent of copyright infringement.” (page 8)
The study also looked at the effectiveness of proposals such as last year’s SOPA. It found that “cutting off direct and convenient means of payment appears to be a promising anti-piracy strategy. ” (page 12) Making cyberlocker sites and similar file sharing sites unable to make money because of the penalties imposed on payment processors for handling transactions originating from or relating to pirate sites is not a new concept. This approach has been implemented in existing federal laws relating to accepting online payments relating to online gambling sites and other sites and has been effective. PayPal is now refusing to accept payments from online hosting providers and this has forced pirate sites to find alternative means for accepting subscriber payments.
The study concludes that “we believe that in addition to its desirableness, a proposed law should be judged based on its expected effectiveness – especially when the law is criticized for having far-reaching negative side effects.” (page 1) Essentially responding to the criticism directed to SOPA and ACTA, the study seems to say that efforts should be directed to reducing the demand for pirated content (the downloaders) rather than the supply side (the uploaders). Simple economics dictate that if there is no demand, there is no market. Most of the premium content on pirate sites is movies and music. Last time I went to the movies (which I do every week), my significant other and I spent $16.00 on tickets, and another $16.00 on 2 large popcorn and 2 sodas. It is expensive to see movies – but I doubt the ticket prices will be coming down anytime soon.
The study can be found here. It is an interesting read.