Piracy of intellectual property and copyrighted goods like movies and music began well before the digital era. Not too long ago, people would take a video camera into a movie theater and record it to later burn copies and sell illegally. Today, pirates can easily turn on a live stream and share it with a private group of subscribers. Anti-piracy protocols and solutions can be put in place to protect a brand’s IP and copyrighted goods, especially today in the ever-changing landscape of digital piracy.

When live streaming was first introduced, the original intention was to simply extend the reach of a broadcast. It has become nearly de facto for platforms to have a live-stream feature for content creators to connect with their audience virtually.  No one imagined that the platform would be taken advantage of and used to pirate content. As technology improved, criminal activity increased.

The rules are changing at a global scale due to the constant demand from consumers for new content offerings. Strategies and solutions need to be adaptable in order to bolster protection to react to current and future unexpected risks that are a threat to brand holders. Some brands, specifically within the sports sector, have seen success in fighting off pirates using ingenious methods for anti-piracy. Below are instances where sports brands have taken a stance against piracy, and what others might consider to follow in their footsteps.

Taking the Cup in Anti-Piracy Activity

One of the leading strategies to protect copyrights from pirates is to get your message out in front of them and make your copyright known. As one of the most viewed sporting events worldwide with 3.4 billion viewers globally, the 2018 World Cup was a natural draw for pirates. For the 2018 matches, Sony owned the streaming rights to the World Cup globally, including live footage, replays, and online sharing. Following an increased amount of piracy seen during  the 2014 World Cup, Sony made it a priority to prepare for the 2018 event. Sony distributed a warning to all potential threats across their digital platforms letting them know that monitoring software was in place. Not every brand needs to be as big as Sony to get the message across that piracy will not be tolerated. Displaying a message about how monitoring software is in place may deter most pirates, and it’s something any brand can do to protect the integrity of its content. Proactively displaying copyright notes across all digital content does not eliminate piracy altogether, but it does let the potential bad actors know that your organization is aware of potential threats and may be willing to work with law enforcement to take action against them. At the bare minimum, it prevents bad actors from claiming they were unaware of violating any rights.

UFC With the Knock Out

For leading title fights, UFC makes significant revenues from advertisements received from pay-per-view purchases. Last year, the Conor McGregor fight with Khabib Nurmagomedov was expected to be the biggest of the year. Organizations involved in the fight were forced to take into consideration that, instead of paying upward of $100 to view the fight, users would instead log into different live streaming platforms. In order to get ahead of the bad actors, UFC monitored the viewers who were consuming the copyrighted content, and in circumstances where it was being streamed illegally, UFC provided them with a link to view the fight through a paid, legal link.

Live Streaming features need to be actively monitored by brand holders in order to protect their intellectual and copyright property. As  shown above, it pays to be on the offensive: By monitoring for bad actors, stopping illegal live streams, and going a step further and offering a legal alternative, the UFC deterred pirates and encouraged them to still tune in at the same time. This is a huge lesson for any brand: If you can avoid alienating your audience, you can ensure they stick around and maybe even turn pirates into paying customers.

The End Game

The piracy landscape continues to evolve and is putting pressure on brand holders to quickly adapt and fight against bad actors. The best way to fight against piracy is to work with a system that can easily evolve and adapt to changes. What’s needed is a system that can detect a problem or illegal activity and instantly act to fix the issue at hand.

Legacy programs don’t have this usability and freedom because of the contact and approval process in place from third-party systems. Sophistication and adaptability are two factors that will need to be incorporated into future brand protection in order to compete and stay ahead of the bad guys, as UFC and Sony have done.

This post provides generalized information and does not constitute legal advice or an attorney-client communication. Each situation is unique and requires consultation with suitable professionals.

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