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As we saw in our last article, piracy is a major cause of job losses in certain technology and entertainment sectors. But the general economic crisis is having a snowball effect: piracy also has social causes, creating a vicious circle: the higher unemployment is, the less people are willing to pay for legal content.

What’s more, as technology and entertainment companies lose more and more revenue as a result of this upsurge in piracy, investment is also affected, which has an impact on the originality of content and creativity in general.

A new rise in piracy - economic and social factors?

While the online media landscape has changed significantly in recent years, a report by EUIPO shows that Internet users today are streaming illegal content for the same reasons as 10 or 20 years ago: the lack of legal options and the high cost of subscription or purchase.

Today, there are many legal alternatives for viewing films, series and listening to music with ease. For many years, it was said that this number of quality legal alternatives would reduce piracy, but this trend now seems to be reversing.

Indeed, the EUIPO report shows that a country’s income level also has a significant impact on piracy rates. Low per capita income, high inequality between the richest and poorest and high youth unemployment are all associated with increased consumption of illegal content. “Understanding the underlying mechanisms of piracy is essential to adopting effective policies and measures that help reduce it,” states Christian Archambeau, Executive Director of EUIPO. Given that the economic crisis seems unlikely to be resolved quickly, we have to accept that consumers will no doubt be encouraged to pirate on a more regular basis; they are used to obtaining content when they want it, but have less and less financial means of paying for as many subscriptions as they did a few years ago.

Creativity Devaluation

Digital piracy has the potential to devalue creativity by creating a culture of free products. When consumers have easy access to pirated works without monetary compensation, this will reduce the perceived value of creative work.

Creators may therefore feel discouraged from pursuing ambitious projects, fearing that their efforts will earn them neither success nor income. This can lead to a general decline in the quality of the work produced. This decline in artistic quality can have long-term repercussions for the creative, entertainment and technology industries as a whole.

Moreover, when the decision-makers in these companies plan their investments, this omnipresent threat will have a major impact on the type of products that will be developed. Risk-taking will probably be increasingly limited to a minimum, and companies will prefer to go for “safe” products, which they are sure will appeal to the majority of the public, in order to guarantee themselves a minimum of guaranteed income. One of the consequences of this new rise in piracy will  be a standardization of products in a number of creative professions. Of course, small technology companies and independent creators are even harder hit, as we saw in our previous article.

Digital piracy therefore has important consequences for creativity and investment. The devaluation of creativity, the reduction of investment, and the challenges faced by smaller industry players are all complex facets of this problem. Solutions require a comprehensive approach, ranging from the evolution of business models to the implementation of technological and legislative measures. By educating the public about the underlying issues, society can aspire to preserve creative vitality while protecting the investments needed for innovation and cultural diversity.

We wish you all the best for the holiday season, and we’ll be back in mid-January with our retrospective on piracy and anti-piracy in 2023. 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!

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