I form part of the Conditional Access group in the MIH Media Lab. When I talk to people about my research, they go, “Oh, so you are basically trying to stop piracy? You know that’s impossible, right?” Ambitious, maybe. Impossible? I like to think not.
“Stopping piracy” is of course like “stopping crime.” You will never completely eliminate it, but you can bring crime down to a level where people are not afraid to walk around in the streets of a city. In much the same way, we want content providers to release their content onto media distribution platforms without worrying that it will be available for illegal download all over the internet the next day.
How not to do it.
To stop piracy, we need to develop a better understanding of why people are pirating movies, rather than just trying the “police-man” approach. For example, below is an anti-piracy commercial telling you that piracy is a big no-no.
I found the comments on this video (Figure 1) quite telling.
Looking at these of this video we learn a few things:
- We wish we could download things that fast;
- These ads annoy paying customers;
- The soundtrack is a catchy tune and
- The girl in this commercial is pretty cute.
Points 3 and 4 may not look very relevant at first glance, but if we take a closer look, there’s a golden thread running through all these comments: We want entertainment and we want it now. Which brings me to my next point.
Even noodles are instant. Renting movies should also be.
Bring the costs down
This seems like a no-brainer to most of us: bring down the cost of content in order to make more sales. We are seeing this happen in software on smart-phones and even operating systems, where people are making millions of dollars by selling $.99 applications. Take Angry Birds, for example, which is a $0.99 game, but considered to be one of the most profitable games ever. (Source)
So we can just apply the same thinking to movies, right? And with rentals, surely a on demand rental system should be able to offer rentals at the same, if not cheaper, price as brick-and-mortar DVD rental shops? You’d think so, but no.
Even in America, Apple started a movie rental service where you can rent a movie for $0.99. A few studios came on board to make their content available, but the other studios’ reactions are illustrated in Figure 2, citing the price as an “unacceptable devaluation of the content.” (Source)
Getting people to pay
9 days, 2 hours and 57 seconds remaining
The problem with preventing slow transfers is that you not only need powerful servers to deliver the content, but you also need immense bandwidth for the servers to be able to get the content to everyone. While the bandwidth problem was solved for services like Netflix in America, this is not always the case. In a developing country like South Africa, we simply don’t have the bandwidth for these systems. It is clear that we need a different approach for on-demand systems in developing countries.