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As we saw in our article from the beginning of October, Sony and other publishers have pointed out that the cloud  is already a partial solution to software and gaming piracy. As each game is stored and run on the cloud, users have no access to the underlying program code, so there’s nothing to pirate, and even if the source code is copied, it’s difficult if not impossible to run it on one’s own device (PC or console). 

Even if pirates always find ways to get around technical barriers (and for games, there are other solutions such as private servers), the cloud seems to be limiting piracy of games and software; at the same time, streaming services such as Spotify Premium or Netflix are contributing to the decline of illegal sharing of series and music. Dematerialized services, therefore, if well designed, seem to be a medium-term answer to a large proportion of piracy.

The evolution of software piracy

In 2013, 43% of software installed on computers worldwide was not officially licensed according to the BSA Global Software Survey. These numbers fell to 39% in 2015 and 37% in 2018 which is the most recent survey.

Let’s not forget that piracy is also a commercial activity. So, the greater the gap between what customers are willing to pay for software and the value they expect to get out of it, the more pirated the software will be. However, the cloud enables regular updates via a subscription system, which also means you don’t have to pay a large sum all at once, which seems  “painless” for the user. It also enables fast, easy access to customer service, and better adaptation to changing needs. Indeed, the cloud enables access to ad hoc modules for a limited time, so that you only pay for what you need at any given moment. This increases the perceived value for the customer, who is not paying a high price for a license that will only be used for certain functions for one month of the year, for example. This type of modular pricing is therefore a strong incentive to acquire the software legally.

However, in some regions of the world (Russia, Eastern Europe and Asia, notably China), game and software piracy continues to increase. We will therefore have to continue to fight it in the traditional way, through search and withdrawal, even if publishers need to think about these monetization policies in the medium and long term. 

Cloud service providers: essential partners in anti-piracy efforts

However, we saw in the first part of our article that the cloud could also be a catalyst for piracy. For example, in May 2023, five operators of illegal streaming networks were arrested and convicted in the UK. They had over 50,000 customers and resellers, 30 employees, and generated over £7 million in just five years, and it was established that a significant number of cloud service providers were involved. 

It is therefore essential to work closely with them.

Some cloud providers like France’s OVH, for example, have taken the matter into their own hands, and since 2021 have begun to work actively to limit pirates’ use of their services. The head of security at OVH cloud claims that, after implementing a number of processes and protocols, they succeeded in shutting down 95% of the IPTV servers hosted by OVH Cloud in just one month. 

The company’s initiative shows that hosting providers can play a vital role in the fight against piracy. 

The only truly viable solution, as with the other components of piracy, is that many cloud providers take action to eliminate illicit uses of their cloud themselves, or at the very least, to respond quickly and efficiently to requests sent by companies specializing in search and removal. It is this close cooperation between experts, combined with well thought-out services from software and game designers, that will transform the cloud. Sometimes and opportunity offered to pirates, it could, with such action, to become a genuine tool in the fight against piracy, and ultimately reduce it drastically. 

In November, we’ll be continuing our reflection on the role of various web actors in encouraging or fighting against piracy; we’ll be taking a closer look at the web’s biggest players – notably X, Google and Facebook – to study their role, and sometimes their passivity, in the fight against the distribution of illegal content online. In the meantime, if you have a film, series, software or e-book to protect, don’t hesitate to call on our services by contacting one of our account managers; PDN has been a pioneer in cybersecurity and anti-piracy for over ten years, and we’re bound to have a solution to help you. Happy reading and see you soon!