The New Face of Content Piracy: A Special Report

Content piracy is an ever-evolving and seemingly intractable crisis for the entertainment business. Digital media and the internet have turbocharged piracy of copyrighted IP over the past few decades, with illegal access to content now easier, more varied and — alarmingly for the industry — more accepted than ever before.

Variety Intelligence Platform’s special report “The New Face of Content Piracy” seeks to explore and demystify the complexities of this phenomenon. Despite its persistence and massive economic impact — one recent study estimated global online piracy costs the U.S. economy around $30 billion annually — the consumption of film and TV content through improper channels remains poorly understood and difficult to assess accurately given the illicit nature of the practice.

Researchers have taken on the challenge, however, and the resulting data helps to illuminate the current face of piracy, as well as potential solutions for the industry. For one thing, it is clear at this point that the convenience and relatively low cost of legal streaming services have not blunted piracy as the industry hoped it would.

Instead, streaming has exacerbated the issue, not only by offering high-quality digital copies of newly released content ripe for piracy but by opening new avenues to the practice, such as password sharing and the use of VPNs.

Using exclusive statistics from research firm Muso, as well as consumer surveys and academic studies, this VIP+ special report explores these tactics and the many other forms of content piracy, consumers’ growing acceptance of such theft and their motives for engaging in it and anti-piracy strategies both successful and unsuccessful.

But this deep dive goes further, offering a potential method for ending content piracy through radical changes to Hollywood’s business models. For as piracy rapidly continues to evolve, the entertainment industry must be prepared to evolve as well if it is to have any hope to effectively combat illegal consumption of its products.

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