Stealing Video in Russia: People Say Not a Crime, Not a Problem

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Pirating copyrighted material has been a thorn in the side of the music, movie and television production business for decades. When it became possible to make digital copies of these creations, the problem got even worse. While consumers may acknowledge that either pirating or watching pirated content is illegal, in one country no one appears to either know or care about piracy. That country is Russia.

Well over 70% of respondents to a recent global survey sponsored by Irdeto, a cybersecurity firm, say that stealing content is illegal, and between 60% and 70% said watching stolen content is illegal, but those numbers are more than reversed in Russia.

Some 87% of Russians said that producing or sharing pirated video content is not illegal and 66% said that streaming or watching pirated content is likewise not illegal.

Doug Lowther, CEO of Irdeto, noted:

A battle is being waged in the media & entertainment industry. Legal content offerings are no longer only competing against each other. Pirates have undoubtedly grown into a formidable foe that should not be ignored. With more than half of consumers openly admitting to watching pirated content, it is crucial that the industry tackles piracy head-on. To do so will require technology and services to protect the legal content as well as a comprehensive education program to help change the behavior of consumers. Coupled with a 360-degree anti-piracy strategy, the market is fully prepared to take the battle against piracy to the next level.

The solution, at least outside Russia, may well be in the content producers’ own hands. Here’s what Irdeto had to say about the availability of content and its impact on illegal consumption of that content:

[Asia/Pacific] (61%) and Latin America (70%) had the most consumers who admitted to watching pirated content, while those in Europe (45%) and the US (32%) said they pirate the least. These results indicate that consumers in Europe and the US have more access to the content they desire, reducing their need to watch pirated content.

Relatively inexpensive (say, $10 a month) access to legal video through services like Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hulu is proven to reduce piracy. But in Russia, the government’s internet czar has called copyright owners “greedy ghouls.” With falling incomes, why should Russians pay for something that has been free for years?

Russia has tried blocking illegal file-sharing sites, but with no significant success. Irdeto’s solution is more education on the damage piracy causes to content producers’ ability to continue making video that people want to watch. Add to that the high probability that piracy is “linked to criminal organizations and that pirated content could include malware.” In Russia, at least, this is an uphill push.

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