Close this search box.

Since the early days of the Internet, Hollywood has been in a perpetual battle against digital piracy. Technological advances have made it easier than ever to copy and distribute films illegally, threatening the film industry. This ongoing battle involves not only strict legal measures, but also technological innovations and public awareness strategies. In this first part, we’ll look at the evolution of measures taken by the various film lobbies, before turning to the more aggressive measures taken in the last year in our second part. 

The first legal measures

The fight against digital piracy began in earnest in the 1990s as the Internet began to democratize. The film industry first responded by taking legal action against individuals and websites responsible for illegally distributing copyrighted content. The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) played a central role in this effort, taking legal action against file-sharing sites such as Napster and Kazaa.

However, these actions were not enough to curb the phenomenon. File-sharing platforms have evolved and found ways around the law. The creation of peer-to-peer (P2P) networks such as BitTorrent has complicated the task. By decentralizing the file-sharing process, it has become more difficult to identify the perpetrators. Pirates have become more sophisticated, using techniques such as anonymization and virtual private network (VPN) services to hide their identity and location.

The New Challenges of the Digital Age

With the rise of streaming services and direct download platforms, Hollywood has had to adapt its strategies.

Services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video have disrupted the entertainment landscape by offering consumers legal and convenient alternatives. For a while, it seemed that consumers would be satisfied with the convenience these services offered. For just a few dollars or euros a month, they had easy access to a vast catalog, without the hassle of searching for information, and in complete security. But the honeymoon was short-lived. The catalogs of the various services became so thin that most people had to multiply platforms to access the content they wanted. Piracy once again became an attractive alternative. And from a technical standpoint, pirates continued to find ways around protection systems, using VPN services to access geo-restricted content and exploiting security holes.

Illegal streaming sites and new technologies such as Android boxes have made pirated content available to the general public. These devices allow users to watch movies and TV shows without paying, often at a quality similar to legal services. This evolution has forced Hollywood to rethink its tactics and work with technology companies to develop innovative solutions.

Technological Innovations: DRM and Beyond

One of the most significant technological responses has been the development of digital rights management (DRM) systems. These systems are designed to protect content from unauthorized copying and to control how consumers can use digital media. Technologies such as HDCP (High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection) for HDMI connections and file encryption have been introduced to limit piracy.

But like all technical systems, DRM is not infallible.  Pirates actually bypass these protections as soon as they are put in place, forcing the industry to constantly update and reinforce its security measures. This technological struggle is a cat-and-mouse game, where every advance on the security side is quickly followed by a new hacking method, offering new challenges to hackers who even seem to enjoy it. For example, pirates use sophisticated decryption software to break DRM protections, making content available again for illegal distribution.

Public awareness and education

Awareness-raising campaigns aimed at showing the impact of piracy on the industry and artists followed. Campaigns like “You Wouldn’t Steal a Car,” or campaigns featuring industry professionals and the impact of piracy on the lives of actual people have been broadcasted to humanize the problem and encourage viewers to think about the ethical and economic impact of piracy. But the reality is that most people have tended to ridicule these communications.

If technology and education have failed, how is the film industry currently tackling the problem? We’ll try to find out in our next article. In the meantime, search and removal remain the most effective methods to get as much content off the web as possible. If you have a movie, series, software, or e-book to protect, don’t hesitate to take advantage of our services by contacting one of our account managers; PDN has been a pioneer in cybersecurity and anti-piracy for over a decade, and we’re sure to have a solution that can help you. Enjoy reading and see you soon!

Share this article