Blocking Pirate Websites Does Not Stop Online Piracy

Research conducted by Boston Northeastern University has determined various anti-piracy strategies, including censorship and blockades, are not effective in stopping the downloading of pirated content.  

A conclusion that many of us are already well aware of, the team monitored thousands of files across various file-hosting services, tracking the availability of illegally shared content.  In these situations, they've found that DMCA takedown notices are merely a drop in the ocean, doing virtually nothing to stop piracy.

On top of that, further research found the shutdown of Megaupload had the opposite effect on the pirated file sharing community, breeding a more diverse landscape and rapidly increasing the number of files identified.  As a matter of fact, the study identified 9,825 separate domains hosting pirated content, spread over 4,478 IP addresses.  The message is simple, and one we already knew: it's impossible to stop it altogether.

“There is a cat-and-mouse game between uploaders and copyright owners, where pirated content is being uploaded by the former and deleted by the latter, and where new One-Click Hosters and direct download sites are appearing while others are being shut down,” the researchers write.

“Currently, this game seems to be in favour of the many pirates who provide far more content than what the copyright owners are taking down.”

So traditional methods adopted by media conglomerates of trying to hide the content are proving ineffective.  The researchers proposed the idea of cutting off payment channels to these pirate websites, such as PayPal, to halt their income.  However, the issue is much more ingrained in the rapid movement of technology around piracy than the economics.  Innovation wins over legislation, as is common in any form of industry.

“Given our findings that highlight the difficulties of reducing the supply of pirated content, it appears to be promising to follow a complementary strategy of reducing the demand for pirated content, e.g., by providing legitimate offers that are more attractive to consumers than pirating content.”

This now presents an interesting fork in the road for the media.  Chances are this will not be read, with the only part identified being to take away forms of financial backing; but this is not the way to combat piracy.  The industry has changed, and traditionalist views will not suffice.  A worldwide standard of access is needed.

Source: NEU SecLab

Jason England